Debunking Alternative Facts About Gun Violence

Devin Hughes and Jen Pauliukonis

devin@gvpedia.org and jen@mdpgv.org

Alternative facts. Fake news. Post-truth. America seems to be awash in misinformation.

Perhaps in no other space is this deception felt more keenly than in America’s gun debate. For decades, the gun lobby and its allies have dominated the narrative on gun violence, ramming through legislation detrimental to public health at the state and national level while actively repressing research on gun violence at the CDC. This campaign has been bolstered by a tired and dangerous barrage of falsehoods, myths, and sales slogans: “more guns, less crime;” “there are millions of defensive gun uses each year;” “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun;” “mass shooters target gun free zones;” and so on. Facts and data seemed powerless to counter this increasingly powerful narrative.

The antidote, however, is to not despair and to not give in to a facts-don’t-matter mindset, but rather to redouble our commitment to evidence-based research and solutions.

GVPedia is that antidote.

GVPedia, a comprehensive resource dedicated solely to gun violence prevention (GVP), meticulously connects scholars, research, and data to the public and media outlets by providing access to a repository of white papers about gun violence; and to the largest gun violence prevention research database in existence.

The repository, GVP University, is a growing collection of topical white papers that clarify and expound on the highest quality research from the database. These papers will give the public and the media a full understanding of the gun violence problem. That understanding is critical in order to craft effective policy solutions.

The Gun Study Database is an extensive, publicly available database of more than 700 studies related to guns and gun violence. The database includes academic studies from all perspectives of the gun violence prevention discussion. We believe in the importance of providing not only the best research but also studies which have, tragically, promulgated dangerous myths to ensure a fair and comprehensive collection of research.

Researchers at top universities across the country, despite incessant political pressure, have persisted in studying gun violence prevention. Scholars have amassed a significant amount of research on gun violence and how best to prevent it but this has largely been out of the public eye. The research has often been overlooked, lost in the void of academic journals, and too often written in technical prose that renders it inaccessible to anyone without a statistics background. GVPedia solves that disconnect.

We can provide political leaders who are supportive of gun violence prevention policies the resources and talking points they need to fight for laws that have been proven to reduce gun deaths and injuries. Leaders want to be strong, effective champions of this issue; GVPedia provides them the expertise to make big impacts that will save lives.

GVPedia will grow the database and number of white papers along with relationships with national and state groups to ensure they have access to the knowledge. We will soon expand our efforts to create independent research based on data from the Gun Violence Archive as well as in-depth reviews of the academic literature. We will provide advocates and concerned citizens with the tools and knowledge-base to not only fight for common-sense gun violence prevention legislation, but to change the conversation and debunk myths at their kitchen tables.

Our aim is to not only create tools to use in support of policies, but to also push the conversation away from alternative facts, myths, and blatant propaganda.

For too long, our country has sat back while the gun lobby controlled the conversation. GVPedia is empowering the American public to take it back. After all, it’s our lives that are in the crosshairs.

Devin Hughes, CFA is the President of GVPedia.

Jen Pauliukonis is the Executive Director of both GVPedia and Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence

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