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Davis, California

Sunday, April 14, 2024

UC Davis establishes nation’s first state gun violence research center

California will fund $5 million to the research center

On August 29, University of California (UC) President Janet Napolitano announced that the first state-funded firearm violence research center will be established at UC Davis. This program will spearhead scientific information to aid the development of effective gun violence prevention programs and policies.

The research center will be led by Garen Wintemute, M.D., M.P.H., an emergency department physician and one of the nation’s most recognized authorities in firearm violence research for the past 30 years.

The State of California will give the newly established center will be given $5 million over the next five years. Jay Dickey, a former congressman (R-Ark.) and a member of the National Rifle Association, and Dr. Mark Rosenberg, past director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s injury prevention program, wrote a letter to the California Legislature firmly backing the creation of the gun violence research center.

In a UC Berkeley “Gun Violence in America” interview, Wintemute said that the research center’s first projects will start with the “basics.”

We are going to look in detail at the epidemiology of firearm violence in California,” Wintemute said. “We are also planning to do a large-scale survey to learn about the prevalence of firearm ownership, factors associated with firearm ownership and the benefits that firearm owners attribute to firearm ownership.”

In the interview, Wintemute also said that the firearm violence research center will start with a core group of four investigators from the Violence Prevention Research Program at the UC Davis Medical Center. The additional funding will bring two more faculty members and two more analysts to the team.

“We’ve seen for the past four years now, a breadth and a depth of concern in society about firearm violence that simply was not there before,” Wintemute said.

Bettina Moore, a third-year economics major at UC Davis, believes that the center will have a positive impact.

“I think [the firearm violence research center is] great,” Moore said. “There is a lot of stuff this country needs to do about gun violence. It is good that everyone is aware about that.”

Rebecca Nelson, a third-year psychology and Spanish major, cited recent police brutality against Black individuals as a reason behind why the research center is important.

I think it’s really important because we definitely have a history of gun violence in the U.S.,” Nelson said. “It’s unnecessary that we have assault rifles legal. There is a huge problem with the militarization of our police, especially in regard to racial violence and the killing of many unarmed Black people. I definitely think it’s really important to research gun violence in light of recent events.”

On Oct. 15, UC Davis will propose a multi-campus plan for the center to the UC Office of the President for approval. The plan will propose and prioritize initial research projects, develop a timeline for accepting applications for small grants, outline efforts to increase philanthropic support to sustain the research and define an annual operating budget and structure for reporting activities and accomplishments.

“The existence of the center and the work that it will do will create a foundation of evidence that will not exist anywhere else,” Wintemute said in the UC Berkeley interview. “I can’t put into words how thrilling this is.”

Written by: Yvonne Leong – campus@theaggie.org


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