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Violence Prevention Research Program

Violence Prevention Research Program

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Program Overview

Now Recruiting

The Violence Prevention Research Program is recruiting for the Vice Chancellor's Chair in Violence Prevention, an endowed position at the associate professor or professor level.

The endowed position is one of two established in July 2012 with anonymous gifts to advance the Violence Prevention Research Program's innovative work. Garen J. Wintemute, program director and professor of emergency medicine at UC Davis, holds the inaugural Susan P. Baker-Stephen P. Teret Chair in Violence Prevention.

The Violence Prevention Research Program is an organized research program of the University of California, Davis. Our work addresses the causes, nature and prevention of violence. Our current major areas of emphasis are the prediction of criminal behavior, the effectiveness of waiting period/background check programs for prospective purchasers of firearms, and the determinants of firearm violence. Our mission is to conduct research that will further America's efforts to understand and prevent violence.

As a research-only organization, we do not serve as a resource for persons seeking general information on these topics. Excellent information, from several points of view, is available from the organizations listed on our "Other Web Sites" page.

News and Other Announcements

New Study: Preventing Violent Crimes

A VPRP study of handgun buyers who had previously been convicted of violent misdemeanor crimes suggests that subsequent crimes could be prevented if criminal charges were reduced less often during plea bargaining. Click here to view the press release and the study published by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine (pdf).

ProPublica Interviews Dr. Wintemute

Reporter Lois Beckett has interviewed Dr Wintemute about the state of firearm violence research. The story is here. A related article on Congressional funding for such research is here.

New Study: Recovering Firearms from Prohibited Persons

Investigators from VPRP and the Center for Gun Policy and Research at Johns Hopkins have assessed a pilot program in California that recovered firearms from persons who had been served with domestic violence restraining orders. The study is available [here] and the accompanying press release is [here].

New Study: Licensed Firearm Retailers Support Comprehensive Background Checks, Additional Denial Criteria

The third report from VPRP's Firearms Licensee Survey has been accepted for publication by the Journal of Urban Health.  The principal findings are 1) that a majority of licensed firearms retailers support comprehensive background checks, and 2) that large majorities, in some cases approaching unanimity, support expanding current federal criteria for prohibiting the purchase and possession of firearms.  The article is available [here] and the press release is available [here]. 

Firearm Violence a Main Topic at Institute of Medicine's Annual Meeting

The annual meeting of the Institute of Medicine, held October 21, was devoted to the science of violence. Dr. Wintemute spoke about firearm violence; a video of his presentation is here.  Videos of all the presentations and some very interesting audience discussions are here. (You will need to scroll down the page and select "Videos" on the left hand side.)

VPRP Research Summaries for California Firearm Policy Proposals

Click here for a brief summary of the evidence on some of California's current policies regulating firearms and ammunition.  Click here for information on the relationship between alcohol and violence.

JAMA Interviews Dr. Wintemute

The Journal of the American Medical Association published an interview with Dr. Wintemute on August 7.  The interview focuses on firearm policy reforms being considered in Congress and by several states.

The Journal Nature Profiles Dr. Wintemute

Nature, one of the world's leading peer-reviewed scientific journals, published a profile of Dr. Wintemute and his research on April 25.  Titled "The Gun Fighter," the profile concludes by noting that "Wintemute will continue the work he began 30 years ago.  For him, it is part of his mission as a physician to relieve suffering. 'Everything that was true of firearm violence in the early 1980s is still true today,' he says.  'There is a fundamental injustice in violence.  People don't ask for it; it comes to them.'"

Firearms Licensee Survey:
Frequency of and Responses to Illegal Activity Related to Commerce in Firearms (PDF)

The video (left) summarizes the results of a 2011 scientific survey of more than 1,600 gun retailers in the U.S., which found that gun buyers frequently try to make illegal purchases and that gun retailers take a dim view of fellow sellers who engage in illegal activity — regardless of whether they are actively breaking the law or simply looking the other way. The survey provides the first-ever estimates of the frequency of various types of illegal firearms activity, including “straw” or surrogate purchases, undocumented purchases and retailer corruption.

The survey is believed to be the first scientific study of a large group of gun retailers to determine their attitudes on illegal gun activity among buyers and retailers. The results, published March 11 in the peer-reviewed journal Injury Prevention (PDF), are a follow up to initial results the UC Davis Violence Prevention Research Program published in September 2012 in the Journal of Urban Health (PDF)on the characteristics of federally licensed firearms dealers, pawnbrokers and their establishments. News releases featuring Part 1 and Part 2 of these survey results are also available.

Commentary: Responding to Firearm Violence Crisis in the U.S.

An invited commentary by Garen Wintemute, an emergency medicine physician and director of the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California, Davis, discusses the limitations of a new firearms and crime ecological study by Eric Fleegler of Boston Children's Hospital. Both the commentary and original research study published online March 6, 2013 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Internal Medicine and will appear in the May print edition.


"Effective gathering of data and evaluation of evidence-based interventions led to requirements for seatbelts, airbags and other measures that reduced vehicle traffic fatalities. We should be using the same approaches to address the firearm violence crisis in the U.S.”




Report: Background Checks for Firearm Transfers

This report, released in February 2013, recommends that the U.S. adopt a comprehensive background check policy — one that requires all firearm transfers (with certain exceptions) to include a background check on the person acquiring the firearm and the retention of a permanent record. It also recommends avoiding two pitfalls. 1) limiting policy to transfers at gun shows, an approach known as closing the “gun show loophole," and 2) exempting holders of concealed weapon permits and other firearm-related licenses.

Few policy proposals on any subject have such broad public support. In January 2013, 88.8 percent of the population overall, 84.3 percent of firearm owners, and 73.7 percent of members of the National Rifle Association supported background checks for all firearm transfers. News release also available. 

"Forty percent of U.S. gun transactions occur between unlicensed private parties. That figure doubles, to more than 80 percent, for firearm sales that involve criminal intent."

Commentary: Gun violence prevention experts call for more physician involvement

A new commentary published Feb. 12, 2013 in the Annals of Internal Medicine by Garen J. Wintemute at UC Davis and researchers with The Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Reseach calls for more physician engagement in the current gun policy dialogue. The video (left) and  news release outline ways physicians can become involved.

Commentary on Firearm Violence in the New England Journal of Medicine

Dr. Wintemute's commentary, "Tragedy's Legacy," recommends actions the nation should take in the wake of the mass murders at Sandy Hook Elementary School and elsewhere. 


Study of Stray Bullet Shootings

Our expanded study of stray bullet shootings in the United States, published in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, found that most people killed or wounded in stray-bullet shootings were unaware of events leading to the gunfire that caused their injuries, and nearly one-third of the victims were children and nearly half were female. A news release summarizing the findings of this often-overlooked form of violence is also available.


Study of Characteristics of Federally Licensed Firearms Retailers

Our initial findings from the Firearms Licensee Survey, published online by the Journal of Urban Health, found that the majority of U.S. firearms dealers and pawnbrokers believe it is too easy for criminals to get guns in America. The survey is believed to be the first of its kind to gather the views of federally licensed firearms dealers and pawnbrokers on important social issues and the firearms business itself, as well as to collect data on the characteristics of these business establishments. A news release highlighting the survey findings is also available.


Report: Inside Gun Shows: What Goes on When Everybody Thinks Nobody's Watching

smaller cover Inside gun show coverGun shows are surrounded by controversy. On the one hand, they are important economic, social and cultural events with clear benefits for those who attend. On the other, they provide the most visible manifestation of a largely unregulated form of gun commerce and, partly for that reason, are an important source of guns used in criminal violence. This report, released in September 2009, combines a review of existing research with direct observations and photographic evidence gathered at 78 gun shows in 19 states, most of them occurring between 2005 and 2008. 

Inside Gun Shows can be downloaded by individual chapter through the links below. The report contains hundreds of photographs and is megabyte-intensive. Thanks for your patience in downloading it. Also, note that some of the photo-narratives in chapters 3 and 4 are designed to be viewed as two-page spreads. To request a bound copy of the report ($39.42 each), fill out a Gun Show request form. Delivery is in approximately 10 days.


Violence Prevention Research Program "in the news"

  • Pacific Standard Magazine has published a good article  on California's Armed and Prohibited Persons System, a unique program to identify prohibited persons who have firearms and recover those weapons.
  • Mother Jones and have published a Q&A with Dr. Wintemute about firearm violence and opportunities for prevention.
  • The Davis Enterprise has published a Q&A with Dr. Wintemute about policies to prevent firearm violence.
  • An article at makes the case that closing the "gun show loophole" is not an adequate response to the problem posed by anonymous, undocumented private-party firearm sales. 
  • The Sacramento Bee has published a Q&A with Dr. Wintemute about priorities for firearm policy reform in the wake of Sandy Hook.  
  • An op-ed about the Sandy Hook murders by Dr. Wintemute published in the Sacramento Bee explores the implications of the fact that the school and the headquarters of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearm industry's trade organization, are in the same community. 
  • has published a Q&A with Dr. Wintemute about funding for research on firearm violence. 
  • The Nation has published a Q&A with Dr. Wintemute about firearm policy priorities.