Improving Data Infrastructure to Reduce Firearms Violence

Virtual event focused on data and evidence in policymaking

CHICAGO, October 19, 2021 – NORC at the University of Chicago, the Data Foundation, Arnold Ventures, and the National Prevention Science Coalition hosted a virtual event titled, “Improving Data Infrastructure to Reduce Firearms Violence.” The event comprised two panels that discussed the recommendations from the NORC Expert Panel on Firearms Data Infrastructure and its Blueprint for a U.S. Firearms Data Infrastructure. The panels examined:

  • The Role of Data and Evidence in 21st Century Policymaking: This panel described changes in the rapidly expanding role of data and evidence in federal policymaking and how to leverage better firearms data to improve public safety. Panelists included:

    • Nick Hart, President, Data Foundation
    • Nancy Potok, CEO, NAPx Consulting, Former Chief Statistician of the United States
    • John Roman, Senior Fellow, NORC/National Prevention Science Coalition
  • Gaps in the U.S. Firearms Data Infrastructure and How to Fix Them: This panel examined the strengths and limitations of existing data collections around firearms injury and violence in public health and criminal justice. Panelists included:

    • Catherine Barber, Senior Researcher, Harvard School of Public Health’s Injury Research Center
    • Philip Cook, ITT/Sanford Professor Emeritus of Public Policy and Professor Emeritus of Economics at Duke University
    • Steve Marshall, Professor of Epidemiology in the University of North Carolina (UNC) Gillings School of Global Public Health and Director of the UNC Injury Prevention Research Center
    • Susan Parker, PhD Candidate, University of Michigan School of Public Health

“Any reasoned debate on firearms policy requires a widely shared set of facts. Unfortunately, a lack of objective and transparent data infrastructure has made it all too difficult to assemble those facts,” said John K. Roman, PhD, Senior Fellow in the Economics, Justice, and Society department at NORC. “These reports and this convening developed concrete recommendations to move in the right direction and assemble the vital information necessary for sound policymaking to improve public safety.”

In October 2020, with support from Arnold Ventures, NORC published the recommendations from a NORC-convened expert panel in A Blueprint for U.S. Firearms Data Infrastructure. The expert panel report includes 17 key policies and practices to improve the public health and criminal justice data necessary to inform more effective measures to prevent gun violence. The current firearms data environment is too fractured and segmented to answer these critical policy questions. Building on this expert panel analysis, the new reports offer specific recommendations to improve criminal justice and public health data on firearms and improve federal agency coordination of data, collection, management and reporting, and state capacity to collect and interpret firearms data.

“The NORC expert panel recommendations are just the first step to building the gun violence data infrastructure our nation needs to help save lives,” said Asheley Van Ness, director of criminal justice at Arnold Ventures. “We need to dig in further and provide a roadmap on how decision-makers can enact these critical policy ideas.”

Guidelines for Implementing the Recommendations of the NORC Expert Panel


About NORC at the University of Chicago
NORC at the University of Chicago conducts research and analysis that decision-makers trust. As a nonpartisan research organization and a pioneer in measuring and understanding the world, we have studied almost every aspect of the human experience and every major news event for more than eight decades. Today, we partner with government, corporate, and nonprofit clients around the world to provide the objectivity and expertise necessary to inform the critical decisions facing society.

About Arnold Ventures
Arnold Ventures is a philanthropy dedicated to tackling some of the most pressing problems in the United States. We invest in sustainable change, building it from the ground up based on research, deep thinking, and a strong foundation of evidence. We drive public conversation, craft policy, and inspire action through education and advocacy.

Contact: For more information, contact Eric Young for NORC at or (703) 217-6814 (cell), and Evan Mintz for Arnold Ventures at or (713) 554-1974.