The recent shooting in Parkland, Florida has ignited a public debate over gun reform, but what are the real facts about gun violence in America? And, who is actually researching the phenomenon?
Adam Pah, Clinical Assistant Professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and gun violence researcher, has attempted to cut through the rhetoric and organize the essential data points, which he says should be used in policy decision-making. Pah explains the Federal Government not only does not but also cannot fund research on gun violence, due to the 1996 Dickey Amendment. The Amendment, which bars the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from funding any research on gun violence, lobbied for by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and, ultimately, passed by Congress. Due to these restrictions, Pah began researching gun violence independently, assisted by a research team at Northwestern University. What he found was the statistics on school shootings were scarce and had no consistent standard of what constituted an incident. Pah and his team decided the definition of school shooting should entail there was actual danger present to the people on a school campus, not just the discharge of a weapon, which was the standard for most of the previous research, or violence on the way to or from a school campus.
Pah and his team ultimately concluded there was a strong correlation between the shootings and indicators of economic security, such as unemployment and consumer confidence. He argues these indicators can and should be used to predict rises in mass shootings. Further research is desperately needed. Mainly, research into what types of intervention can be used once the violence is predicted. Without Federal funding, independent researchers like Pah are all that we have to uncover the facts associated with the devastating reality of gun violence in America.
- Adam Pah, Clinical assistant professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University
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