case study

Building an Evidence Base of Gun Violence Research



There are nearly 40,000 firearm deaths and even more non-fatal injuries from firearms per year in the United States. Yet, the public and policymakers lack basic information on the causes of gun violence and how to prevent it in part because the government largely abandoned funding for gun research in 1996. This has resulted in a dearth of scientific evidence on gun violence prevention. To identify potential solutions for reducing gun violence, we must invest in high-quality research.  

The National Collaborative on Gun Violence Research funds research to produce the evidence needed to inform the development of fair and effective gun violence prevention policy and protect the interests of law-abiding gun owners. In January 2020, NCGVR released its second annual RFP for 10-25 research awards of up to $9.5 million; it earmarked $1.5 million for Missouri-relevant research. The Collaborative wanted to promote the RFP to both encourage proposal submissions and highlight its continued work, and the work of its funding partners, to re-establish and build up the gun research pipeline.  

Our Approach 

Burness worked with the Collaborative to develop content featuring the new funding opportunity for its marketing channels, including its website, social media and newsletters. We also developed an extensive academic list targeting faculty and professors in a variety of disciplines, including emergency medicine, behavioral health, criminal justice and urban studies in about 75 U.S. colleges and universities. In addition to stakeholder outreach, Burness also conducted press outreach to specific gun violence and philanthropy trades to emphasize the Collaborative’s ongoing work to support gun violence research.  We also engaged Missouri media outlets to build awareness about the local funding opportunity. 

Results & Impact 

The Collaborative received 238 letters of interest in response to the RFP calling for high-quality research projects on gun policy and gun violence reduction, including 32 submissions for proposals relevant to Missouri. Additionally, the RFP garnered press coverage in variety of media outlets, including The Trace, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the St. Louis American and St. Louis Public Radio.  

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