Research on Gun Violence Funded by Hedge Fund Billionaire

September 3, 2018 James Heinsman In the News

John Arnold used to be an energy trader. He launched is own hedge fund firm after working for a while at Enron. He built up a fortune and decided to retire at the age of 38 with an estimated net worth of about $3.3 billion.

Arnold and his wife Laura created a foundation which strives to rely on scientific studies to influence public policy. The goal is to produce a body of evidence which both sides of an issue will trust.

“We are about evidence, where the truth takes us,” said Jeremy Travis, the foundation’s senior vice president of criminal justice. “We’re not on one side or another of the gun debates that are really dividing the country. We are interested in testing ideas and finding out what works.”

The Laura and John Arnold Foundation is now turning its resources towards investigating the issue of gun violence in the United States. They are now in the process of bringing together a group of private funders to spend about $50 million on research on gun violence as a public safety issue. When the studies have answers, the Foundation hopes to put pressure on government to do additional research and legislate policies that will be effective in reducing gun violence in the country.

The Foundation has invited the NRA to join the initiative in the hopes that the powerful anti-gun-control lobby will then be a player in improving the situation rather than an impediment to solutions.

“(There’s a) tendency in the gun violence issue that’s the most troubling,” said Travis. “Evidence is seen of value only if it supports a position. Every once in a while, you want to be surprised.”

Last year the Journal of the American Medical Association said that from 2004 to 2015, research on gun violence was severely “underfunded and understudied” in comparison with other important causes of death in the country.

The RAND Foundation was picked by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation to oversee the project. RAND has its own initiative called “Gun Policy in America.”

Some of the subjects with the Foundation listed as priorities will be:

  • What are the characteristics of gun violence?
  • What are the risk and protective factors?
  • What are gun violence interventions?

gun violence, John Arnold, Laura and John Arnold Foundation, NRA, RAND Foundation,

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