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Mixed Reviews of New Law By Gun Violence Researchers

The small community of American researchers focused exclusively on studying gun violence and how to prevent it are reacting with cautious optimism to the newly passed federal gun law, the New York Times reports. Though the bipartisan compromise legislation is far from perfect in their view, at least some provisions of the law, signed into law by President Biden on Saturday, are informed by the evidence of what works to address certain types of gun violence said the researchers, who for years have felt excluded from policymakers' deliberations and largely starved of federal funding.

America’s gun violence research community includes psychiatrists, epidemiologists, law professors, emergency room doctors and social policy experts. Their interests, while ideally rooted in reliable evidence, generally aligns with advocates' desire to make change. One provision in the new law the researches generally applaud will financially support states' efforts to expand the use of extreme risk protection orders, or red-flag laws, which have been found to show potential to reduce both mass shootings and domestic violence homicides. But the law is also notable for the evidence-based approaches it left out, including a ban on large-capacity magazines — such regulations have been shown to reduce casualty totals in mass shootings — and gun storage safety locks, which can reduce unintentional gun deaths of children. A provision giving authorities up to 10 business days to review the juvenile and mental health records of gun purchasers younger than 21 will be difficult to enforce, experts say, because juvenile court and mental health records are typically private and inaccessible. The bill’s expansion of mental health resources in communities and schools is welcome, they say, but unlikely to result in fewer mass shootings or less interpersonal gun violence, though it could reduce suicides, which account for more than half of gun deaths.


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