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A Blueprint for a U.S. Firearms Data Infrastructure

NORC Expert Panel on Firearms Data Infrastructure
Final Recommendations of the Expert Panel on Firearms Data Infrastructure

Beginning in the summer of 2019 partnership with Arnold Ventures, NORC at the University of Chicago constructed an expert panel, which includes distinguished academics, government leaders, and trailblazing practitioners, whose charge was to create a blueprint for a better firearms data infrastructure to be implemented in both the short-and long-term. The expert panel convened three times, in September 2019 and in January and June of 2020. Each panel meeting grappled with the vast problem of what to measure to inform research on firearms safety; how to create, implement, and sustain priority data collections; whom to entrust with that measurement; and how to create accountability for rigorous, timely data dissemination.

This report synthesizes and distills the work of the expert panel, through a concise set of actionable recommendations for priority changes to the U.S. firearms data infrastructure. The recommendations include steps to improve existing data collections that can be implemented immediately and long-term changes in strategy to build a more robust and scalable infrastructure. The development of a rigorous empirical research base to inform both citizens and policymakers requires a robust and sustainable data infrastructure. The most enduring data infrastructure is one that is comprehensive, flexible, and nonpartisan. Nowhere is that data foundation more needed than in the realm of firearms violence—reliable data area critical bridge to effective policymaking that improves public safety by reducing the number of firearm accidents, suicides, homicides, and assaults.