The first research day dedicated to gun violence research and prevention will be held Friday
Political leaders, scholars and community members will come together for a series of presentations on preventing gun violence less than a week after a racially motivated shooting in a Buffalo supermarket put the issue back in the national spotlight.
The presentations are part of the first research day hosted by the New Jersey Gun Violence Research Center (GVRC) – one of the few state-funded centers in the nation – and will focus on gun violence and trauma in the Black community, suicide risk, purchasing, non-fatal gun violence and interpersonal violence in the LBGTQ community.
The event was organized before the shooting in Buffalo but will address relevant topics.
The virtual event on Friday runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with remarks from Gov. Phil Murphy, New Jersey Senators Cory Booker and Bob Menendez and Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman. Attendees can register until the day of.
Michael Anestis, an associate professor at Rutgers School of Public Health and executive director of the New Jersey Gun Violence Research Center, will be among Rutgers and national scholars on gun-related violence, and community leaders like the Newark Community Street Team who will present the causes, consequences and solutions to gun violence.
Anestis talked to Rutgers Today about the GVRC research day and what participants will gain from this experience.
What is the goal of the GVRC Research Day?
A range of presenters will discuss gun violence prevention work — including our community partners, researchers we have funded and members of our own team. This will not be a traditional academic conference. We are hoping that the presentations will be of interest to a broad audience, including not only academics, but also community members, policymakers, journalists, advocates and more. Research is one vital path towards preventing gun violence and our hope is to ensure that everyone connects with the work being done at the GVRC.
Who are some of the presenters?
We have two prestigious keynote speakers: Joseph Richardson from the University of Maryland will present gun violence and trauma among Black boys and young Black men and Emmy Betz from the University of Colorado School of Medicine will present on firearm injury and prevention. The remainder of the day will include a mixture of main stage events and breakout rooms featuring New Jersey Gun Violence Research Center members, our community partners at the Newark Community Street Team and researchers from across the country that we have funded to conduct gun violence research.
How will this event be impactful to the community and researchers?
The GVRC is a state-funded gun violence research center, and we have both a local and national obligation to conduct research that addresses the needs of communities impacted by all forms of gun violence. Unfortunately, research often does not reach the communities that could most benefit from it and researchers struggle to effectively connect their research to audiences outside of academia. This event aims to address that problem by providing engaging presentations that show exactly how the research conducted and funded by the GVRC is directly relevant to the needs of communities in New Jersey and beyond and how to empower those communities to demand data-driven solutions to gun violence.
What should participants expect from the conference?
Presenters will discuss all forms of gun violence, including suicides and shootings. The presenters come from a variety of fields, including psychology, public health, criminal justice, emergency medicine and more, which means that the speakers think about and approach gun violence prevention from a variety of angles. The day will also include videos featuring local artists whose work focuses on gun violence prevention. We realize that gun violence is a difficult topic, so we are aiming to provide an engaging event that lets people see how hard so many individuals are working to address these tragedies.