Benefactor doesn't dictate direction of research


In response to "Harford County Council passes resolution condemning state gun law" (May 15th, 2013): The article quotes a Harford County Councilman who questioned the objectivity of gun policy research at Johns Hopkins University because New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is a major benefactor. 

I direct the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, and have been conducting research on gun policy for the past 23 years. Over this time, I have led numerous studies related to gun violence and published the results in 78 articles in scientific journals. Those journals require that articles be independently reviewed and vetted by other experts in the field before accepting them for publication. In my evaluations of the effects of gun control laws, I've found some to be effective and others not, and have reported the findings in the most transparent manner possible. 

The principle of academic freedom is one of the standards of responsible conduct of research I follow as a faculty member of Johns Hopkins University. This stipulates that the design, conduct and reporting of research must be independent of potential influence or biases from the funding source. Mayor Bloomberg does not dictate, oversee or vet my research, nor has he ever attempted to influence anything that I write or say pertaining to gun policy.

Questioning the objectivity of the University's research on guns is a distraction from the hard evidence that opponents of stronger gun laws would prefer to ignore. Some gun laws do make us safer.

Daniel Webster, ScD, MPH

Professor and Director

Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research


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