Joe Biden has begun to offer an outline of what he will recommend to the US president as a policy response to gun violence. Early indications suggest that recommendations will include universal background checks for gun buyers, closing the “gun show loophole,” and prohibitions on large capacity magazines.
Interestingly, the press is also reporting that Biden would like to remedy the de facto prohibition of federally funded research on firearm injury. He has discussed “the whole question of the ability of any federal agency to do any research on the issue of gun violence” and noted a need to “gather information on ‘what kind of weapons are used most to kill people’ and ‘what kind of weapons are trafficked weapons.’”
The suppression of US public health research into firearm injury and death was recently summarized in a JAMA commentary here. Opening federal funding for gun violence research might, finally, allow the US to explore programs and policies to reduce the toll of unintentional injury, suicide and homicide by firearms in this country. The public health approach can be more nuanced (and politically palatable) than outright bans, much in the manner that motor vehicle trauma has been reduced through an incremental program of safety improvements, evidence-based public policy and the evolution of social norms around dangerous behaviors.