Gun violence is one of the five leading causes of death among Americans aged 1–64 and yet, compared with other major causes of death and injury, the federal government has invested far less in research to prevent gun violence than for other leading causes of death.

Despite the strictest gun laws in the nation, California continues to be plagued by gun violence — from the 2023 mass shootings in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay, to the ongoing intimate partner violence, suicides, unintentional shootings, homicides, and other senseless gun-related crimes across the country.

However, the federal government has invested less in research to prevent gun violence than for other leading causes of death because of a 1996 amendment that prohibited using public funds for studies that advocate gun control. Congress clarified the law in 2018, and at the end of 2019, the government committed $25 million to build “an evidence base” for policies or programs to inform policymakers.

In 2020, the National Collaborative for Gun Violence Research awarded the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research (CHPR) a $600,000 grant to advance knowledge on gun violence related to firearm ownership, storage practices, and perceptions of gun safety, and fill critical data gaps about risk factors for gun suicide and urban gun violence related to understudied and disproportionately impacted subpopulations such as youth/young adults, veterans, immigrants, and LGBT people.

To gather data for this research, a series of questions on firearm storage practices, attitudes toward gun violence, and accessibility to firearms were added to the 2021 and 2022 California Health Interview Surveys (CHIS).

Gun violence was the topic of the 2023 E.R. Brown Symposium. California Attorney General Rob Bonta, keynote speaker, and more than a dozen gun violence experts, scholars, and community activists discussed both gun violence research and the programs and policies designed to help stem gun violence.

UCLA CHPR’s first publication based on CHIS 2021 gun violence data showed that about 5.2 million California adults, or 17.6%, kept a firearm at home, and among California veterans 38.1% did so. Among adult gun owners, 1 in 13 (7.7%) reported having a firearm at home that was loaded and unlocked, including 13.9% of veterans who kept a gun at home. Of all California adults, 12.9% were "very worried" about being a victim of gun violence, including 24% of adult immigrants in the state.

Gun Violence and Firearm Safety at a Glance

1 in 6

California adults live with a gun at home (Source: CHIS)


of California teenagers have held a firearm in their own hands (Source: CHIS)


of immigrants in California were “very worried” about being a victim of gun violence in 2021 (Source: CHIS)