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The Guardian

California attorney general cuts off researchers’ access to gun violence data

Xavier Becerra’s justice department has denied access to data used to evaluate firearms laws and policies A woman marches with the Moms Demand Action anti-gun violence group. Photograph: Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters For decades, America’s gun violence researchers fought an uphill battle against the National Rifle Association to obtain the data and funding they need to study the effects of US gun laws. But researchers in California say they are now facing a different, unexpected hurdle: the state’s outgoing Democratic attorney general. Under Xavier Becerra, who has been nominated to serve as Joe Biden’s health secretary, California’s department of justice started to deny researchers access to firearms data used to evaluate a wide range of gun laws and policies. The new data restrictions have put key projects at California’s state-funded gun violence research center in limbo, and locked Becerra into a bitter, bizarre public standoff with one of America’s most respected gun violence researchers. series linker California, which has much stricter gun laws than most American states, also has more detailed government data available, including records of individual handgun purchasers going back decades and statewide records about the restraining orders filed to temporarily bar at-risk people from owning or buying guns. This more detailed personal information has allowed California researchers to conduct rigorous analyses of the state’s gun laws and policies, looking at early evidence of whether the state’s new gun violence restraining orders have helped to prevent mass shootings, studying whether buying a handgun puts a person at higher risk of dying from gun suicide, and examining whether expanding the category of people with violent records who are barred from buying guns might reduce gun violence. But it’s precisely this more detailed personal information, including about gun purchasers,

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