Public Health Expert Calls for More Research on Gun Violence
Karl Minges, an assistant professor and director of the University of New Haven’s Master of Public Health program, called gun violence "one of the most pressing public health problems."
March 18, 2019
By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications
Karl Minges, Ph.D., an expert on improving the health of vulnerable clinical populations, believes public health is about prevention and protection. That was also his message at a recent press conference in New Haven about gun violence, an issue the American Medical Association has called a public health crisis.
"Gun violence is 100 percent preventable," said Minges. "Despite the modifiable nature of gun violence, is it shocking that so little research exists on the topic."
Supporting Minges’s call for more research, Connecticut U.S. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, who held the press conference, discussed her efforts to enable the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to use funding to support gun violence research. Her hope is that this would generate a scientific basis for future public policy development.
This would be necessary, said Minges, because there is a dearth of information available on the issue. Although there are rough estimates available – 40,000 deaths and nearly 100,000 injuries related to gun violence annually – researchers and policy makers do not know the answers to some basic questions, including why gun violence has increased and what can effectively prevent mass shootings.
"To identify the answers to these and many, many other questions researchers have pertaining to gun violence – it is not – nor should it be – an exercise in partisan politics," said Minges. "Public health research is not partisan. In this field we are simply looking for ways to solve crises to allow all people to live their lives fully, safely, and with minimal risk."
"Public health research is not partisan. In this field we are simply looking for ways to solve crises to allow all people to live their lives fully, safely, and with minimal risk."Karl E. Minges, Ph.D., MPH
Looking at alternative ways to solve the crisis, Minges suggested closely tracking gun violence in much the same way as car accidents and making this information available to universities and research centers. He believes that gun violence research should cross not only party lines, but also the lines that often divide different fields of research.
"At the University of New Haven, researchers in the School of Health Sciences could collaborate with those from the Henry Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences, and, specifically, with the Center for Analytics to serve as the technical infrastructure for future research into gun violence," said Minges. "The Center for Analytics’ information systems and analytic support may be leveraged by subject matter experts within the fields of healthcare, law enforcement, and social policy to better understand trends in gun violence."