The Center for Disease Control and Prevent (CDC) and Community Action Justice Fund hosted a webinar about the role of research in Gun Violence Prevention. Derrick Gerwin of the CDC reported that gun violence is a serious problem in the US and a major cause of injury. Additionally, Dr Hanni Buggs from the Black and Brown Research Collective reported that in 2020, gun violence was the number one killer of all children. However, prior to this, it was the primary killer of Black and Brown children and adults ages 15-34. Further, gun violence exists in co-occurring systems of oppression. Hence, to create effective policy, it is necessary to interrogate the nuances/co-occurring systems that influence gun violence.

Derrick Gervin indicated the CDC funds research around different form of gun use and gun violence and promotes collaboration across various sectors to address the issue. However, Dr. Buggs argued that gun violence research has not addressed the needs of the people primarily affected. Dr Buggs stated that gun violence research has not addressed the needs of the people primarily affected by it. Further, researchers with proximity to the community have been excluded. For example, Black researchers are systemically excluded from research grants and are usually denied based on the topic of research. These denied research proposals usually center BIPOC issues and gun violence. Further, Dr Jora Leap of the Social Justice Research Partnership stated that though there has been a push for community based participatory research, this is not enough. Also, Dr Leap stated that research is usually problem driven rather than community-led and fails to recognize the diversity within communities.

Dr Chico Tillmon stated that research is essential to praxis/intervention. Also, research prevents unintentional harm from well-meaning intervention programs. Dr Tillmon indicated that research can validate and help disseminate effective community interventions. Additionally, research should be about co-creation, the result of the collaboration of process experts (researchers) and people with lived experiences. Further, research should drive policy and influence government spending. Dr Leap concurred with Dr Tillmon and added that all research teams should mirror the communities being researched. Further, community members should be salaried members of the research team and given ownership of the data. Otherwise, people feel used when work is compensated for with a gift-card. Finally, Dr Buggs reiterated that researchers should be those with proximity to the community being studied.

More information about the White House’s CVI Collaborative Initiative is available here.

The Impact of Gun Violence on Children, Families and Communities – Published in CWLA’s Children’s Voice Magazine.

By Aretha Shalanda Campbell, Policy Intern