Gun Violence: A Public Health Crisis

October 10, 2016


“Gun Violence: A Public Health Crisis” was formed in spring 2015 to look at one of our greatest public health challenges: death and injury as a result of gun violence.

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On this page:

Upcoming Events
Initiative News & Updates
St. Louis Violence Prevention Collaborative
Funding Opportunities
Resources & Reading


Through this effort, we invite scholars, medical professionals, community leaders, and citizens to take a hard look at the serious, tragic public health consequences of gun violence in America. The initiative will explore three key themes: What we know, what we need to know, and what to do about this critical issue.

We are working with national experts, partners across Washington University, and stakeholders throughout the St. Louis community to:

  • Better understand and raise awareness of the issues;
  • Identify gaps in available data and research, and explore ways that Washington University could help address those gaps;
  • Empower policymakers and the public with better information to guide their decision-making; and
  • Find actionable measures that would lead to the reduction in gun violence.

“Bringing together our academic strengths to address major societal challenges is a part of our mission,” said Chancellor Wrighton during the launch event for the initiative that took place in April 2015. “Our goal, by engaging in the conversation, is to help develop real solutions that have a real chance of making a real difference and, in the process, help to reduce death and injury from firearms.”

Get Involved

If interested in getting involved with this initiative, you can:


Project Coordinator: Paola (Poli) Rijos-Saitta, MSW, LCSW | 314-935-9282

Upcoming Events

View a full list of upcoming and past events and programs connected to Gun Violence: A Public Health Crisis.

View a list of events and programs in the St. Louis area by visiting the St. Louis Violence Prevention Collaborative calendar.

Initiative News & Updates

Click HERE to read more about past Initiative News & Updates.

St. Louis Area Violence Prevention Collaborative

Washington University in St. Louis and the United Way of Greater St. Louis have formed a joint partnership that aims to provide support and resources to local initiatives that are uniting in their efforts to combat gun violence in the region. The St. Louis Area Violence Prevention Collaborative will work to reduce violent crime in the region by promoting a coordinated, well-resourced support system and interventions among area governments, institutions and agencies that serve individuals and families most at risk of violent crime.

Youth and Gun Violence: NOW Is the Time For Action

Story Stitchers youth hosted a second video-taped discussion November 10 at Kranzberg Arts Center’s Black Box Theater to reopen topics explored in last year’s discussion.

Medical Students Learn Public Health Impact of Gun Violence in New Course

This fall, the Washington University School of Medicine is offering a class titled ‘Gun Violence as a Public Health Issue’ for the first time. Various medical school faculty, faculty from other schools at Washington University and Saint Louis University, and experts from local community organizations working on issues related to gun violence are teaching the course, which is designed to survey all major aspects of gun violence as a public health issue.

Pediatricians should change gun safety talk

Washington University Research Professor, Departments of Medicine and Pediatrics, School of Medicine and Institute scholar, Jane Garbutt’s research found half of kids in families studied spend time in households with firearms. Garbutt’s study also received coverage on CBS and ABC news.

Jane Garbutt headshot
Research Professor, Departments of Medicine and Pediatrics, School of Medicine

High Schoolers Tackle Systems of Gun Violence

A few dozen St. Louis area high school students gathered for a summit this summer to discuss how system dynamics can affect gun violence in the community. The second annual Changing Systems Student Summit took place June 28-July 1 and was sponsored by the Brown School, its Social System Design Lab, and the Institute for Public Health, all at Washington University in St. Louis.

Funding Opportunities

Institute for Public Health

The Institute for Public Health is offering special funding for gun violence prevention projects through its rapid funding mechanism, Public Health-Cubed.

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has issued a Program Announcement for: Research on the Health Determinants and Consequences of Violence and its Prevention, Particularly Firearm Violence. This funding opportunity includes a wide span of basic, clinical and translational studies, interventions at the individual, family and community level, and research to identify the best ways to disseminate and implement efficacious and evidence-based interventions in real-world settings.

Application Due Date(s): Standard NIH dates apply.
PA Expiration Date: January 8, 2017

If you are interested in pursuing a grant application to the NIH as part of this PA, please contact Poli Rijos. The Institute may be able to provide support to help with your application.

Resources & Reading

Library Guide

Provided by the Becker Medical Library and the Institute for Public Health at Washington University in St. Louis, this guide will point to resources to raise awareness focusing on the issues surrounding gun violence as a public health issues in our nation.


Volunteering & Voting

Further Reading

National Organizations Focused on Gun Violence Prevention

  • Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence | Develops and implements extensive public health and safety programs and utilizes the courts to reduce gun violence.
  • Urban Networks to Increase Thriving Youth (UNITY) | Utilizes a public health, or prevention, approach to violence.
  • Gun Violence Archive | An online archive of gun violence incidents collected from over 1,200 media, government and commercial sources daily in an effort to provide near-real time data about the results of gun violence.
  • Violence Reduction Network | The U.S. Department of Justice collaborates with cities in the Violence Reduction Network to support and enhance local violence reduction efforts.
  • National Network for Safe Communities | Supports cities implementing interventions to reduce violence and improve public safety, minimize arrest and incarceration, strengthen communities, and improve. relationships between law enforcement and the communities it serves.
  • Everytown for Gun Safety | Seeks to improve our understanding of the causes of gun violence and the means to reduce it – by conducting groundbreaking original research, developing evidence-based policies, and communicating this knowledge to the American public.
  • Mothers in Charge | The mission of Mothers In Charge is violence prevention, education and intervention for youth, young adults, families and community organizations.

Key Articles