nh_june2018On an average day in the U.S., gun violence ends the lives of nearly 100 people. Yet across the country, only about 30 researchers are dedicated full time to studying the public health crisis — and in many ways, they have only begun to scratch the surface.

“This area of research has been so underfunded that while we’ve learned some things, we should know so much more by now,” David Hemenway, PhD, director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, told The Nation’s Health. “You need good data that’s consistent and comparable across sites and years and you need money for research, both of which we don’t have. It’s deterring researchers from going into the field.”

Right now, researchers hoping to better understand gun violence and help shape effective interventions face two imposing barriers: a scarcity of detailed data and a near total lack of federal funding support, which would typically play a major role in addressing any other public health crisis similar in size and scope to the nation’s gun violence problem.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, firearms were responsible for more than 36,000 deaths in 2015, with the age-adjusted death rate from firearms increasing nearly 8 percent between 2014 and 2015. More than 60 percent of such deaths were from suicide and nearly 36 percent from homicide. CDC researchers estimate there are about 67,000 firearm-related injuries each year. About 1,300 children die and nearly 5,800 are injured by guns annually.

To continue reading this story from the June 2018 issue of The Nation’s Health, visit the newspaper online.