Research Reports

Gun Violence Prevention Research: Summer 2017 Newsletter


By Jessyca Dudley, Program Officer, Gun Violence Prevention

As the nation responds to incidents of hate such as the August 12 events in Charlottesville, we see how firearms carried openly are used to intimidate communities and limit the effectiveness of law enforcement. The latest issue of the Joyce Foundation’s Gun Violence Prevention Research Report includes timely research findings on how and why Americans keep and carry firearms, and their views on guns in public places. Research from the National Firearms Survey shows that a majority of Americans, including gun owners, do not support open or concealed carrying of firearms in public places. The 2015 National Firearms Survey is the first nationally representative exploration in more than two decades into how and why Americans keep weapons. Other recent articles analyzing data from the survey offer new insights into:

We hope you find this new research valuable, and encourage you to provide your feedback and insights.

U.S. opinion on carrying firearms in public places

A new study, part of a series stemming from a large 2015 national survey, shows that a majority of Americans do not support open or concealed carrying of firearms in public places. The strongest opposition was to allowing guns in places where alcohol is served. Even among gun owners, 74% agreed that guns should not be permitted in bars. And 62% of gun owners agreed that concealed weapons do not belong on college campuses. The study is authored by Julia Wolfson, Stephen Teret, Deborah Azrael, and Matthew Miller.

News outlets including Newsweek, The Trace, and Reuters have reported on this research. Read more.

Selling a gun to a stranger without a background check: acceptable behavior?

A new national study has found that a majority of American adults believe it is not acceptable to sell a gun to a stranger without a background check, whether or not such checks are required by law. Even among gun owners, 64 percent agreed that it is not acceptable to sell a gun to a stranger without a background check, while only 15 percent disagreed.

Nearly every gun in the United States is first sold by a licensed dealer to someone who passes a background check. However, problems can arise after the initial sale if the gun is transferred to another individual without a background check to determine if the buyer has a prior felony conviction, is subject to a domestic violence restraining order, or is otherwise prohibited from owning firearms. About one in four current gun owners report that they did not undergo a background check for their most recent purchase, and half of all gun sales by private sellers occur without a background check. Ninety-six percent of prisoners convicted of gun offenses who could not pass a background check at the time of their crime obtained a firearm from a private, unlicensed individual.

Reducing the number of guns sold without a background check could reduce the flow of firearms to prohibited persons. Study authors David Hemenway, Deborah Azrael, and Matthew Miller concluded that, “Changes in normative attitudes and behaviors, as well as changes in laws, could help accomplish this goal.” Read more.

Whose guns are stolen? Circumstances that lead to gun theft

Analyzing data from a large 2015 national survey, researchers found that 2.4 percent of gun owners have had a gun stolen in the previous five years, resulting in an estimated 380,000 guns stolen in the United States annually.

The nation’s first study of gun theft incidents, by David Hemenway, Deborah Azrael, and Matthew Miller, finds that guns are more likely to be stolen from persons who routinely carry guns, do not engage in safe storage practices, own 6 or more guns, and own guns for protection.

Stories about this research have appeared in The Guardian and The Trace. Read more.

Formal firearm training among adults in the USA: results of a national survey

The first study examining the subject in more than 20 years found that 4 out of 10 people who own handguns for self-defense have received no formal training. Sixty-one percent of firearm owners have received formal firearm training - a rate unchanged since the last study of its type conducted 23 years ago.

Study authors Ali Rowhani-Rahbar, Vivian Lyons, Joseph Simonetti, Deborah Azrael, and Matthew Miller also found that firearm training varies widely, most commonly addressing the safe handling of firearms. Even though two-thirds of all firearm deaths in the U.S. are suicides, suicide prevention is rarely discussed in firearms training.

Stories about this research have appeared in Mother Jones and The Trace. Read more.


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About The Joyce Foundation

Joyce is a nonpartisan, private foundation that invests in evidence-informed public policies and strategies to advance racial equity and economic mobility for the next generation in the Great Lakes region.

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