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February 5, 2013
Call for Research on Gun Violence
The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI) supports the application of psychological research on important social issues to public policy solutions. As such, SPSSI commends President Obama’s Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and scientific agencies to conduct research into the causes and prevention of gun violence. Moreover, SPSSI calls on Congress to pass the Firearm Safety and Public Health Research Act, and to provide President Obama’s requested $10 million to conduct further research including investigating video games, media images, and violence.
The tragedy in Sandy Hook shocked the nation, and rightly spurred us to action. However, the issue is broader than one incident. There are 30,000 people killed in the United States by firearms every year. Over a thousand have lost their lives due to guns since Sandy Hook. Gun violence in American communities is a devastating problem, and we cannot wait any longer to address these issues in order to prevent further tragedies.
Although we already know a great deal about gun violence, the insertion of language in HHS appropriations bills that first happened in 1996 had a chilling effect on CDC’s modest program of research on gun safety and injury. The extension of these constraints to NIH has only made things worse. Both measures seriously impede psychologists’ and other scientists’ capacity to investigate and provide data on the causes and impact of gun-related violence, and to suggest effective prevention measures. Rather than hindering research, the United States government should actively support objective, non-partisan scientific investigations into the causes and prevention of gun violence. We therefore urge Congress to repeal obstructions to the development of an empirical knowledge base, and support a rigorous program of research on gun violence, seeking to prevent the unnecessary and tragic further loss of life.
The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI) is an international group of approximately 3000 psychologists, allied scientists, students, and others who share a common interest in research on the psychological aspects of important social issues. In various ways, the Society seeks to bring theory and practice into focus on human problems of the group, the community, and nations, as well as the increasingly important problems that have no national boundaries. For more information, please contact Gabriel Twose, Ph.D., SPSSI Policy Director, at (202) 675-6956 or