What we do and don’t know about how to prevent gun violence | Science News

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What we do and don’t know about how to prevent gun violence

Lack of research makes it hard to determine laws’ effect on saving lives

3:52pm, March 9, 2018
person pointing a gun

JUMP THE GUN  Arguments about which gun laws might reduce gun violence are hard to settle, given how little research there is on gun policy effectiveness, but a new study has some answers.

In the fraught days following a mass shooting, people often ask if an assault weapons ban or allowing concealed carry permits would reduce the likelihood of further violence. But reliable evidence on the effects of those policies can be hard to find.

Now the largest comprehensive analysis of research on U.S. gun policy in years offers some answers, but also troublingly little guidance. A glaring finding of the study, published by the RAND Corporation March 2, is how little work has been done to know which policies work.

“The research literature on gun policies is really very thin,” says Andrew Morral, a behavioral scientist at RAND, a nonpartisan institute based in Santa Monica, Calif.

Ideally, solid research leads to effective public health policies, which then reduce deaths, be it from guns, car accidents or fires. But when it comes to gun research, good science is lacking, says

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