In this case, a 6-3 majority concluded that the state of New York requires a license to carry.

New York requires applicants to show a specific reason for carrying a concealed gun. In addition to California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C., there are similar regulations in other states. The decision casts doubt on all those laws, as well as other rules where a future court concludes that a policy is not consistent with a historical tradition of regulation. The Supreme Court has created a new approach to rules that state legislators must follow.

Everyone knows what is at stake with the recent mass shootings. Some of the statistics we have are amazing. A record number of gun deaths are happening. There were more than 50,000 deaths from firearm injuries in 2020. Children are more likely to die from firearms than any other cause. There has been an increase in the domestic sale of firearms. There are almost 400 million guns in the United States. The surge of nine million firearms purchased during the first five months of the COVID pandemic was 85 percent higher than anticipated.


Despite these mounting deaths, partisan deadlock often stands in the way of passing gun legislation, and opponents of new laws often point to a lack of evidence that would reduce the harm caused by gunfire. If we had more objective research, we could overcome such assertions. There isn't enough evidence to show how to reduce gun violence.

It's by design.

The federal government didn't properly support research into gun violence for more than two decades. We spent about $63 in research dollars per life lost to gun violence, compared to about $1,000 per life lost to car crashes and about $7,000 per life lost to sepsis.

Without these investments, we have many questions about the effects of gun policies. The Dickey Amendment was put in place in 1996 to stop the CDC from advocating gun control. The rule was seen as a restriction on gun violence research. There is a huge gap of data never collected despite Congress clarifying the law for research funding. We don't have a lot of evidence about the issues discussed in the Bruen case. There is no basic data on gun injuries in each state.

It's like trying to reduce freeway deaths without knowing the number of car crashes or the effects of seatbelts.


The research gap has been filled by universities and private philanthropies. The National Collaborative on Gun Violence Research has awarded more than $21 million for more than 40 research projects on topics ranging from intimate partner violence to suicides to self-defense. This is just a drop in the bucket for a public health problem that has been killing people for a long time.

It would cost $600 million over five years to conduct the most critical pieces of research and build out the necessary data infrastructure to collect accurate information on deaths and injuries caused by firearms.

NASA is spending $600 million on a new space telescope to find asteroids. $600 million is a reasonable price to pay to understand how we can prevent one of the leading causes of death in the US.

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The 100 critical gun research questions identified by the Joyce Foundation expert advisory panel would need $475 million to be answered. The rest would support the implementation of the recommendations of the NORC Expert Panel. Supporting local compliance with the National Incident-Based Reporting System is one of the steps included.

The Gun Policy In America program is trying to document the highest quality research and determine what gun safety policies are most likely to save lives. Child-access prevention laws, which make it a crime to allow children to have unfettered access to firearms, are the best way to reduce suicide and unintentional injuries. Background checks and prohibitions based on domestic violence may reduce suicides and violent crime.


It's important to note that the lack of high-quality evidence doesn't mean we should ignore logic. As we continue to research red flag laws, we should not hesitate to make sure that people who are suffering from suicidal thoughts can't easily get a gun. Common sense is not the only thing that makes this compassionate.

The impact of the Bruen case has been found to be limited by at least one high-quality study and no conflicting findings. If we decide at the federal funding level that these questions are worth answering, the data will be more extensive. These questions can only be answered by philanthropy and university funding.

Progress is being made on the funding front. Over the past two federal budgets, Congress has allocated $50 million to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute of Health to further gun violence research. There is a bill moving forward in congress. The lack of 20 years of research into gun violence and resulting public policy has left us without answers at a time when we need them the most.

Policy makers and the general public need the help of scientists and researchers when it comes to understanding the problem of gun violence. While all-too-frequent mass shootings and the resulting political debates may dominate the headlines, the reality is that our understanding of gun violence doesn't meet the moment. Guns can be safer, and once and for all, we need to answer the doubt that they can't be, or that they shouldn't be.

There is a story that needs to be told about the people who suffer from gun violence and the politicians who try to fix it. This is a story about how data, research and evidence have been used to save lives in the United States. The story is about how we can stop gun violence. There is room for evidence based gun regulations. Even though the Supreme Court has ruled, a well-grounded scientific basis for gun policy is more important than ever, and only the federal government can meet the challenge.


The views expressed by the author or authors are not necessarily those ofScientific American.