Study will probe the ‘secondhand’ effects of having guns in the home

David Studdert

Stanford Health Policy’s DAVID STUDDERT – an expert on the public health epidemic of firearms violence – acknowledges that mass shootings are on the rise in the United States.

“Experts now generally agree that mass shootings are becoming more common – and that a common thread is disaffected young men who have access to high-caliber, high-capacity weapons,” said Studdert, professor of law and of medicine.

Both suspects in the recent Dayton and El Paso shootings fit this profile.

Studdert notes, however, that while mass shootings have become the public face of gun violence, they account for less than 1 percent of the 40,000 firearm deaths each year.

“So as a public health researcher, I do care about mass shootings and I am interested in understanding and their causes – but the focus of my ongoing research is the other 99 percent,” he said.

It’s that focus that Studdert will be pursuing in a recently awarded $668,000 grant from the National Collaboration on Gun Violence Research. The private collaborative’s mission is to fund nonpartisan, scientific research that offers the public and policymakers a factual basis for developing fair and effective gun policies.

Studdert, YIFAN ZHANG, a statistician with Stanford Health Policy, and Stanford political scientist JONATHAN RODDEN are working with colleagues at the University of California, Davis; Northeastern University; and Erasmus University Rotterdam on the Study of Handgun Ownership and Transfer, or LongSHOT.

The team is following several million Californians over a 12-year period to better understand the causal relationship between firearm ownership and mortality. They launched in 2016 with the initial goal of assessing the risks and benefits of ownership for firearm owners.

“The implications of firearm ownership for owners is important because they usually are the ones making the decision to purchase and own,” Studdert said. “But we knew from the beginning that this was only part of the picture. The presence of a firearm in the home may also have health implications for the owners’ family members.”

In the new study, the researchers will identify the cohort of adults in California who live with firearm owners but are not themselves gun owners, and then compare their risks of mortality to a group who neither own weapons, nor live with others who do.

Read more about the study on the Freeman Spogli Institute website.