Notes Discrepancy in Funding for Gun Violence Research Relative to Gun Violence Mortality Rates
Washington D.C., October 18, 2017—The Government Accountability Office (GAO) today released a report on the effectiveness of firearm storage awareness programs, ultimately finding the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence's "ASK" program to be the only national safe storage program that has been independently evaluated and found to be effective. The report, entitled "Personal Firearms: Programs that Promote Safe Storage and Research on their Effectiveness," was prepared over a two-year period in response to a request by the Congressional HELP (Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions) Committee.
The report also points out that funding for gun violence prevention research is disproportionately low relative to health issues with comparative mortality rates. According to the report, government-funded research for gun violence is .7 percent of that for sepsis, which has a comparable mortality rate, and the publication volume for studies on firearm-related deaths is about four percent of that for sepsis.
Brady Campaign co-President Kris Brown heralded the release of the report. "The GAO's findings confirm what we at Brady have long known- - ASKing saves lives. Each day, seven children are killed by guns. 1.7 million children live in a home with a loaded, unlocked gun. It's crucial to know which programs work to spread awareness of guns in the home. At the same time, the report's finding of the lack of funding of gun violence research relative to other health issues is alarming. Gun violence is an epidemic -- and we need to attack it like every other public health epidemic -- through research and data tracking to fund programs that work."
The report evaluated 16 programs, both regional and national, that are aimed at spreading awareness of the importance of safe storage of firearms. Brady's ASK campaign was found to be the only national program that effectively promotes awareness of safe storage through its parent-centered program that urges caregivers and parents to ask if there are guns safely stored in the homes where their children play. The NRA's Eddie Eagle program, aimed directly at young children, was found to have no effect on participating children's behavior around guns.
"Child and school safety starts at home. When families store their guns responsibly, they're much less likely to end up in schools and tragedies are less likely to occur. It is critical that guns are kept safely away from kids and that we, as parents, ask if there are guns in the homes where our children play," said Jim Accomando, president of National PTA. "National PTA is proud to support the ASK campaign and collaborate with Brady to help prevent gun-related incidents and keep children safe. The association is also committed to advocating for legislation and appropriations to research the causes and effects of gun violence. In order to fully understand and address this epidemic gripping our nation, we need to first understand the causal relationships and the effects such violence has on our communities."
HELP Senate Committee leaders lauded the report's findings.
"There is so much we can and absolutely should be doing to address gun violence—but as this report makes clear, one simple, critical step is to gain a better understanding of how to encourage the safe storage of guns," said Senator Patty Murray (D-WA)."I'm hopeful that every Senator will take a close look at the findings in this nonpartisan report, and join Democrats, the Brady Campaign, and families nationwide in pushing for stronger investments in gun violence research."
"If we want to stop this tragic scourge of gun violence, we need better information about what is causing it and what can be done to prevent it," said Senator Ed Markey (D-MA). "We need to study gun violence like the public health crisis that it is. This new GAO report outlines how important it is to give the medical, scientific, and public health community the resources they need and support a federal research agenda into gun violence. I thank the Brady campaign for their leadership on this issue and look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make critical investments in protecting lives."
Brady's ASK campaign, developed in conjunction with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), raises awareness among parents about the importance of asking if there are guns where their children play, to ensure guns stay out of kids' hands. The program also emphasizes the importance of medical and health professionals to talk to parents and patients about guns in the home, gun safety and safe storage. For more information about the program, visit http://www.askingsaveskids.org/.
Brady has one powerful mission — to unite all Americans against gun violence. We work across Congress, the courts, and our communities with over 90 grassroots chapters, bringing together young and old, red and blue, and every shade of color to find common ground in common sense. In the spirit of our namesakes Jim and Sarah Brady, we have fought for over 45 years to take action, not sides, and we will not stop until this epidemic ends. It’s in our hands.