2023

New research presented in tackling gun violence as a public health epidemic


Symposium held by UCLA FSPH Center for Health Policy Research highlights new findings to support policy solutions.

person holding sign with the word action circled

Less than two months into the new year, there have already been more than 60 mass shootings in the United States and 5,103 people killed by gun violence, including the January shootings in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay.

These statistics were among those presented at “Addressing Gun Violence as a Public Health Epidemic,” a symposium held Feb. 13 by UCLA Fielding's Center for Health Policy Research. The half-day virtual symposium featured emerging research on various aspects of gun violence and discussions with leaders from national and local organizations advocating for policy change and public safety.

Research that explores the underlying issues contributing to gun violence and the trauma surrounding it is essential for meaningful policy change, said Dr. Ninez Ponce professor and chair of health policy and management at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, who led the symposium.

Until recently, Dr. Ponce said, federal funding for gun-violence research was limited by a 1996 amendment that prohibited using public funds for studies that advocate gun control. Now, investment in research must be increased for “building an evidence base for policies or programs to inform policymakers making tough decisions.”

The symposium’s keynote speaker, California Attorney General Rob Bonta, noted that the newly established Office of Gun Violence Prevention is taking a public health approach to the issue by “expanding our lens beyond prosecuting gun crime to prevention, harm reduction and even culture-shifting.”

The office will examine a “broad range of factors to prevent gun violence on the front end, from firearm availability to effective resources for crisis prevention, reducing gun violence by promoting research and data collection,” Bonta said.

“We must continue to pursue and implement and enact evidence-based, data-driven policies in California, increasing awareness about effective legal and policy strategies and collaborating with our partners, all of you.”

He urged the students viewing the symposium not to wait until graduation to get involved.

“Your time is now,” he said.

Dr. Michael Rodriguez, a professor emeritus at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and director of the California Alliance of Academics and Communities for Public Health Equity, echoed that sentiment.

“It is important that we not wait,” Dr. Rodriguez said. “This is part of a movement and a movement that that impacts everybody. And that requires data to help support the work of the movement.”

Data presented at the symposium demonstrated recent trends in gun violence statewide, including who are most likely to be victimized and what tactics might help in preventing firearm injury and death.

Among the findings:

Even as the total number of gun assaults and homicides have decreased from 2005 to 2019, the fatality rate of these shootings has increased, according to research by George Tita, a professor of criminology, law and society at UC Irvine.

His research also found that shootings that happen indoors are more deadly than those that occur outside, that gun homicide victims are skewing older over time and that older victims are generally shot indoors.

“That suggests to me that the distance is closing between the discharge of the weapon and the distance that projectile travels to striking a victim,” Tita said. “I think that might be one of the reasons that we're seeing the increase in the case fatality rate. There's nothing that we can find that suggests that firearms in Los Angeles are becoming any more lethal than in any other time period.”

These findings could inform policies as to safe gun storage inside homes.

• Twelve percent of young people ages 12 to 18 believe they can get a gun within two days, said Joan Asarnow, professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people ages 10 to 34, and suicide is most deadly when done with a firearm.

Asarnow and colleagues developed an intervention called “Lock and Protect” to help parents and caregivers reduce access to firearms in households where young people are experiencing mental health challenges.

“Just like when you have a 2-year-old in your home, you’re going to lock up cabinets and put a barrier around your pool,” Asarnow said. “When you have a child who’s suicidal or depressed, you want to think of yourself as having to childproof your home in the same way.”

“Lock and Protect” has proven effective in a study published in 2021 and additional studies are ongoing.

By Sandy Cohen for UCLA Health

Related Faculty

Dr. Ninez Ponce
Ninez Ponce
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Steven Teutsch
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
David Hayes-Bautista
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Yvonne Flores
Yvonne Flores
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Jody Heymann
Jody Heymann
Epidemiology Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Balgrosky headshot
Jean Balgrosky
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Thomas Priselac
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Laura Erskine
Laura Erskine
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Kristen Choi
Kristen Choi
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Annette Maxwell
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Thomas Rice
Thomas Rice
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Robert Kaplan
Robert Kaplan
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Kadiyala, Srikanth
Srikanth Kadiyala
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Aria Fallah
Aria Fallah
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Arturo Vargas Bustamante
Arturo Vargas Bustamante
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Clifford Ko
Clifford Ko
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Gerald Kominski
Gerald Kominski
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Paul Chung
Paul Chung
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Jonathan Fielding
Jonathan Fielding
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Robert Brook
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Jose J. Escarce
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Samuel Sessions
Samuel Sessions
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Anthony Schiff
Anthony Hunter Schiff
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Michelle Keller
Michelle S. Keller

Dr. Michelle S. Keller is a health services researcher whose research focuses on the use and prescribing of high-risk medications.

Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. John Lu
Z. John Lu
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Daniel Eisenberg
Daniel Eisenberg
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Moira Inkelas
Moira Inkelas
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Roshan Bastani Headshot
Roshan Bastani
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Stephanie Taylor
Stephanie L. Taylor

Nationally recognized health services researcher and sociomedical scientist with 25+ years' experience in effectiveness and implementation research.

Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Felicia Hodge
Felicia Hodge
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Joann Elmore
Joann G. Elmore
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Nadereh Pourat
Nadereh Pourat
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Burt Cowgill
Burt Cowgill
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Lori Pelliccioni
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Yusuke Tsugawa
Yusuke Tsugawa
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Naomi Zewde
Naomi Zewde
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Kenneth Wells
Kenneth Wells
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Corrina Moucheraud
Corrina Moucheraud
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Jeanne Miranda
Jeanne Miranda
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Arlene Fink
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Jack Needleman
Jack Needleman
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Jennifer Wortham
Jennifer Wortham
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Emily Abel
Emily Abel
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Diana Hilberman
Diana Hilberman
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Sangeeta Ahluwalia
Sangeeta Ahluwalia
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Rosenstock
Linda Rosenstock
Environmental Health Sciences Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Freund, Deborah
Deborah Anne Freund
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Comanor, Bill
William Comanor
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Gordon headshot
Thomas D. Gordon
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Davidson - headshop
Pamela Davidson
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Beth Glenn
Beth Glenn
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Risha Gidwani
Risha Gidwani
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Frederick Zimmerman
Frederick Zimmerman
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. William McCarthy
William J. McCarthy
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Julie A. Elginer

EMPH Academic Program Director with expertise in healthcare marketing, finance, and reproductive health policy, teaching in the EMPH, MPH, MHA program

Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Ron Andersen

Dr. Ron Andersen is the Wasserman Professor Emeritus in the UCLA Departments of Health Policy and Management.

Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Barbara Berman
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Alan Tomines
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
James Macinko
James Macinko

Professor of Community Health Sciences & Health Policy and Management, and Associate Dean for Research

Community Health Sciences Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Ron D. Hays
Ron D. Hays

@UCLA since 1997

Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Vickie Mays
Vickie Mays
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
silhoette
Ty Robbins
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Brennan Spiegel
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Avram Kaplan
Avram Kaplan
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Leah Vriesman
Leah Vriesman
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Neal Halfon
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Mangione, C
Carol Mangione
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Emmeline Chuang
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Dylan Roby
Dylan Roby
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Isomi Miake-Lye
Isomi Miake-Lye
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Olivia Jung
Olivia Jung
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Elizabeth (Becky) Yano
Elizabeth (Becky) Yano
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Lillian Gelberg
Lillian Gelberg
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Xi Zhu
Xi Zhu
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Mark Litwin
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Alice Kuo
Alice Kuo
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Image of Dr. Susan Ettner
Susan Ettner
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Aronberg, Sandra
Sandra Aronberg
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Warren Scott Comulada
Warren Scott Comulada
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Galper, Michael
Michael Galper
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Michael Ong
Michael Ong
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Paul Fu, Jr.
Paul Fu, Jr.
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Patricia Ganz
Patricia Ganz
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile