Dr. Jeffrey W.Swanson is part of a small community of American academics — about two dozen in all — focused exclusively on studying gun violence and how to prevent it. Washington has often stood in their way; for 24 years, Congress effectively barred the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from funding their work. Federal law still prevents the government from giving them access to gun-tracing records that would be extremely helpful to their research.
For years, they have felt that Washington was not listening to them, and they had better luck with state lawmakers. But now that President Biden has signed the most significant revision to the nation’s gun laws in decades, America’s gun violence researchers are taking a bit of a victory lap — despite viewing the bipartisan legislation as imperfect and last week’s Supreme Court decision expanding gun rights as a countervailing setback.
“I’ll settle for a glass half full,” said Garen J. Wintemute, a professor of emergency medicine at the University of California, Davis, who has studied gun violence for 40 years. …
These researchers say the new law is informed by evidence. But it is also notable for what it leaves out. It does not ban high-capacity magazines, which allow shooters to fire repeatedly without pausing to reload. Studies suggest doing so would significantly reduce death tolls in mass shootings. It makes no mention of gun storage safety locks, which a study published in 2000 found were associated with a 17 percent reduction in unintentional gun deaths of children. And although gun homicides disproportionately affect people under 21, the law does not raise the legal age for buying semiautomatic weapons to 21, from 18.