NORC at the University of Chicago Convenes Expert Panel on Firearms Data

CHICAGO, Oct. 15, 2019 – NORC at the University of Chicago announced the launch of an independent expert panel to address the current gap in firearms data.The panel, which is an Arnold Ventures supported effort, is comprised of 12 subject-matter scholars, who will leverage their professional and personal experience and subject-matter expertise to create a blueprint detailing actionable recommendations for the development of an objective and sustainable firearms data infrastructure for use by local, state, and federal policymakers and their constituents and the research community.

“Firearms data in the United States is limited,” said John K. Roman, PhD, senior fellow in the Economics, Justice, and Society department at NORC. “The lack of research on the causes and correlates of firearms violence is a roadblock to evidence-based decision-making,” he added. “The panel is designed to develop a blueprint toward a solution.”

Through a series of meetings, the expert panel will exchange ideas, review existing data systems, and hear testimony from expert witnesses. A report generated from the first meeting, authored by panelists and NORC staff, will assess the current state of firearms data infrastructure in America.

“To address the complex and urgent issues surrounding gun violence effectively, we have to start by collecting and analyzing firearms data—something most people would be startled to realize researchers and lawmakers rarely have access to,” said Asheley Van Ness, director of criminal justice at Arnold Ventures. “This panel represents a significant step forward in our collective efforts to apply a data- and evidence-based approach to solving the gun violence epidemic.”

From these deliberations, the expert panel will produce three documents: The State of Firearms Data in 2019; Promising Practices, Programs and Policies in Data Infrastructure; and Creating a Firearms Data Infrastructure to Serve 21st Century Policymaking. The final report will serve as a set of recommendations for the development of a firearms data infrastructure, including a prioritized list of future projects. This information will provide empirical support for the public, researchers, and local, state, and national policymakers.

Expert Firearms Data Infrastructure Panelists

  • Clarence Wardell, PhD, director of city solutions at Results for America (panel chair)
  • Ruth Abaya, MD, attending physician at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania
  • Catherine Barber, MPA, research manager of the Means Matter Campaign at the Harvard School of Public Health’s Injury Control Research Center
  • Phil Cook, PhD, economist and professor emeritus in public policy, economics, and sociology at Duke University
  • Dennis Culhane, PhD, professor and the Dana and Andrew Stone Chair of Social Policy at the University of Pennsylvania
  • Rebecca Cunningham, MD, professor of emergency medicine and interim vice president for research at the University of Michigan
  • Erin Dalton, MS, deputy director for the Office of Analytics, Technology, and Planning at Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
  • Robin Jenkins, PhD, associate director at the Impact Center at Frank Porter Graham Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Michael Mueller-Smith, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Michigan and a faculty associate at the Population Studies Center
  • Fatimah Muhammad, MS, executive director of the Health Alliance for Violence Intervention
  • Daniel Webster, ScD, professor at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University
  • Garen Wintemute, MD, professor at the University of California-Davis School of Medicine


About NORC at the University of Chicago

NORC at the University of Chicago is an objective, non-partisan research institution that delivers reliable data and rigorous analysis to guide critical programmatic, business, and policy decisions. Since 1941, NORC has conducted groundbreaking studies, created and applied innovative methods and tools, and advanced principles of scientific integrity and collaboration. Today, government, corporate, and nonprofit clients around the world partner with NORC to transform increasingly complex information into useful knowledge.

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).