The University of California Firearm Violence Research Center at UC Davis’ Sacramento campus officially launched July 4 under the direction of Garen Wintemute, a professor of emergency medicine and recognized authority on the epidemiology of firearm violence.
The new center, known as UCFC and funded with a $5 million appropriation from the state of California for five years, builds on the strong body of research that Wintemute and his team have conducted for more than 30 years – despite the lack of adequate federal funding to study gun violence.
While the center will continue to focus on understanding the underlying causes of firearm violence and finding effective ways to prevent it, the new funding stream allows Wintemute to expand his research operations and drill down to further identify the individual and social factors associated with an increased risk for gun violence and its effects on individuals and communities.
For example, Wintemute’s prior research has identified alcohol abuse as well as a prior history of violence as risk factors for gun violence. Studies by Magdalena Cerdá, a UC Davis epidemiologist and Wintemute’s colleague in this effort, have shown that communities affected by poverty, joblessness and low education levels also have high rates of violence.
“Gun violence is a complex problem. We need to take a multidisciplinary approach to better understand and develop solutions based on scientific evidence,” Wintemute said.
Wintemute has recruited a growing team of experts at UC Davis and specialists from other UC campuses, including UC Berkeley epidemiologist Jennifer Ahern, UC Irvine criminologist George Tita, and UCLA health educator Deborah Glik and family medicine expert Michael Rodriguez.
Small grants will also be awarded to researchers outside the center on a competitive basis to conduct leading-edge studies, producing new scientific evidence to help understand and address the problem of gun violence.