Foundation Grants Support Gun Policy Research

RAND is addressing a gap in the evidence needed to evaluate the effects of gun laws

Support from Arnold Ventures and a new $4.7 million grant from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is helping researchers find policy solutions to reduce gun violence.

April 7, 2023

More than 120 people are killed by guns every day in the United States. Many more are affected by gun violence. But how do we solve the problem? What does the evidence say about gun laws in the United States?

The debate over gun policy in America suffered for years from the absence of reliable information about the effects of gun-related policies. RAND made it a priority to fill this vacuum, launching the Gun Policy in America initiative in 2018 to provide a shared set of facts that the public and policymakers can use to develop fair and effective gun policies.

Initially launched with funding from RAND supporters, since June 2018 the Gun Policy in America initiative has been supported by a grant from Arnold Ventures. Foundation grants like this are a critical source of funding and are helping RAND expand gun policy research efforts and build the scientific evidence base needed to inform gun policy decisionmaking.

For example, a new RAND report, based on a review of thousands of studies, shows that child-access prevention laws reduce firearm homicides and self-injuries among youth. RAND researchers also found supportive evidence that stand-your-ground laws and “shall-issue” concealed-carry laws increase levels of firearm violence.

Decisionmakers are taking notice of RAND’s findings and contributions. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently awarded RAND a $4.7 million grant to assess how firearm laws affect injury, death, crime, and other outcomes in communities defined by racial composition.

“This significant grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is a testament to the trust leaders have in RAND’s findings and the respect for our long history of using objective analysis to address complex and often-controversial topics,” said Christine Lanoie-Newman, RAND’s senior managing executive director of Development. “This is an area where RAND can make—and already is making—a difference.”

RAND’s work has been followed by a resurgence in federal funding for firearm violence prevention research. Congress, whose limits on such research had amounted to an outright ban since the 1990s, has since 2019 allocated $25 million annually for new studies.

“We’re so grateful for the philanthropic support that has helped RAND not only fill a critical need—a gap in the evidence required to evaluate the effects of gun laws—but also reignite federal funding for research that we hope will help reduce gun violence and make our communities safer and more secure,” said Andrew R. Morral, senior behavioral scientist at RAND, leader of the Gun Policy in America initiative, and director of the National Collaborative on Gun Violence Research.