The first test of an online injury prevention strategy in rural Michigan shows promise for reducing risk in firearm-owning families with children by engaging with local communities and organizations to identify tailored solutions, according to new findings presented at the 2022 National Research Conference on Firearm Injury Prevention.

The early data (Store Safely: A culturally tailored universal prevention strategy for rural families), presented by Cynthia Ewell Foster from the University of Michigan Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention and Department of Psychiatry, was one of more than 260 presentations during the two-day conference and earned the Conference’s Innovation Award. Programming for the conference included researchers from 37 states and five countries, representing more than 250 different institutions and including more than 20 research disciplines.

More than 530 researchers gathered in Washington, D.C. to share their work and discuss the most current data related to firearm injury prevention, making this meeting the largest research conference held for this field of study.

Other findings shared at the conference include: 

  • In a randomized controlled trial among low-income, predominantly Black neighborhoods, abandoned housing remediation was directly linked to significant reductions in weapons violations and gun assaults (Abandoned housing interventions and gun violence in low-income Black neighborhoods: A citywide cluster randomized trial, Eugenia South, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Pennsylvania)
  • In a study using “driving retirement” as a comparative concept, participants responded positively to the concept of “firearm retirement”. Participants described key decisions that would be necessary to retire from firearms, including identifying who would enact plans and acquire their firearms (Aging, firearms, and development of the “Firearm Life Plan”, Marian (Emmy) Betz, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Colorado)
  • In a presentation based on a broader National Science Foundation project, four key areas capturing how people understand themselves as gun violence survivors were identified including: the social construction of gun violence as a ‘life event versus a ‘life hazard’; community- versus individual-oriented accounts of responsibility with respect to gun violence; expansive versus exceptional beliefs surrounding trauma, grief and bereavement; and experiences of multifaceted versus restricted social support. (Becoming a gun violence survivor: Unpacking the relationship between experiences of gun violence and engagement in gun politics, Jennifer Carlson, University of Arizona)

To maintain the momentum of the growing field of firearm injury prevention research, conference organizers announced the formation of the Research Society for the Prevention of Firearm-Related Harms on the last day of the conference. The purpose of the new society is to promote and support research and dissemination of evidence-based practices to prevent firearm-related harms across the life course. 

Conference Executive Committee co-chairs noted the importance of having a society for this field: “We are encouraged by the interest in this year’s conference and the significant growth in the field of firearm injury prevention research. This society will serve as a transdisciplinary professional organization that promotes and supports research and evidence-based practice to prevent firearm-related harm across the life course.”

Those interested in receiving updates about the Research Society for the Prevention of Firearm-Related Harms and next year’s conference can sign up via the Society listserv. Sonali Rajan, Associate Professor of Health Education, Teachers College, Columbia University has been named as inaugural president of the new society.