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Study concludes nearly every American will know victim of gun violence

Thursday, November 3, 2016 22:16
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A study published in the December edition of Preventative Medicine concluded nearly every American will know a victim of gun violence in his or her lifetime.

Researchers from the Boston University Schools of Public Health and Medicine said their findings indicate “the probability of never knowing someone who experiences gun violence over a lifetime is very small.”

Specifically, the study found overall the likelihood of knowing a victim of gun violence within any given social network is 99.85 percent.

Minorities — defined by researchers as blacks and Hispanics — were 99.9 percent and 99.5 percent likely to know a victim, respectively, compared to just 97.1 percent of non-Hispanic whites.

Knowing a victim who died as a result of gun violence shrinks to 84.3 percent overall, the study finds, though it’s still slightly elevated for minority groups.

Researchers used 2013 data from the Centers for Disease Control, which recorded 33,363 gun deaths and 84,258 non-fatal gun injuries. Suicides compromised nearly 63 percent of the gun deaths.

“Leaving aside constitutional debates about approaches to controlling gun violence, it might inform our national conversation to recognize that nearly all Americans, of all racial/ethnic groups, will know a victim of gun violence in their social network,” the study’s authors wrote.

Co-authors on the study were Bindu Kalesan, assistant professor of medicine at the university and director of the Evans Center for Clinical Translational Epidemiology and Comparative Effectiveness Research; Dean Sandro Galea; and Janice Weinberg, professor of biostatistics, according to a university release.

Together, the authors urged for more exploration on the issue of gun violence — an area of research the CDC has been reluctant to venture into over the last 20 years, fearing repercussions from the 1996 Dickey Amendment.

Congress tucked the controversial Dickey Amendment into the 1996 spending bill, stipulating no CDC funding “made available for injury prevention and control could be used to advocate or promote gun control.”

It’s been a sore spot for Democrats and gun control advocates alike who have tried and failed to remove the amendment from subsequent spending bills, including last year’s effort from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, and 110 congressional Democrats to get the language struck from the 2016 budget.

Although the CDC steers clear of gun violence research, the Justice Department’s National Institute of Justice awarded $3.3 million to five institutions studying ways to reduce gun violence — Northwestern University, the New York City Center Court for Innovation, the University of California – Davis, the trustees of Boston University and the president and fellows of Harvard College.

In an Oct. 25 press release, the DOJ Institute of Justice said “the results of this research are expected to strengthen our knowledge base and improve public safety by producing findings with practical implications for reducing intentional, interpersonal firearms violence.”

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