General discussions about the firearms debate are at the beginning, followed by talking points about firearms, suggestions and techniques for how to talk about firearms, awareness resources, tips for testifying before lawmakers, and a list of miscellaneous quotes about firearms and public health is at the end.



Scientific American: More Guns Do Not Stop More Crimes, Evidence Shows

This article, published in the October 2017 issue of Scientific American, states that, “More than 30 peer-reviewed studies, focusing on individuals as well as populations, have been published that confirm what Kellermann’s studies suggested: that guns are associated with an increased risk for violence and homicide.” (by Melinda Wenner Moyer)

Pew Research Center: America’s Complex Relationship With Guns

On June 22, 2017, the Pew Research Center released this survey that “attempts to better understand the complex relationship Americans have with guns and how that relationship intersects with their policy views. The survey finds that Americans have broad exposure to guns, whether they personally own one or not. At least two-thirds have lived in a household with a gun at some point in their lives. While gun owners and non-owners have significant differences in views about gun policy, they agree in some areas. For example, large majorities of both groups favor restricting access to guns for individuals with mental illnesses and those who are on federal no-fly or watch lists. Gun owners themselves have diverse views on gun policy, driven in large part by party identification.” (by Kim Parker, Juliana Menasce Horowitz, Ruth Igielnik, Baxter Oliphant and Anna Brown)

Pew Research Center: Opinions on Gun Policy and the 2016 Campaign

On August 26, 2016, the Pew Research Center released this report that discusses the results from their national survey, conducted August 9-16, among 2,010 adults, including 1,567 registered voters.

The Guardian: What could actually work to fix gun violence in America – and what doesn’t

This article, published in The Guardian on June 23, 2016, states that, “In the wake of high-profile shootings, proposals such as banning assault weapons gain momentum. But there are solutions few national politicians are looking at that take a very different tack.” (by Lois Beckett)

Washington Post: The gun-control debate, explained in 5 questions

On December 3, 2015, The Washington Post published this article that presents both the pro-gun control and the pro-gun rights arguments for (1) Would more guns prevent gun deaths?; (2) Do more gun laws prevent gun deaths?; (3) Should schools arm teachers and guards?; (4) Is prohibiting gun ownership compatible with the 2nd Amendment?; and (5) Do Americans even want more gun control? (by Amber Phillips) Dan Gross—Why gun violence can’t be our new normal (13:38 min)

Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, talks about background checks for all gun sales (February 2016).

TEDMED: Daniel Webster—How better policy will trigger fewer gun deaths (18:11 min)

Daniel Webster, Professor of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, discusses ideas for sensible firearm policies (2014). Gary Slutkin—Let’s treat violence like a contagious disease (14:08 min)

Gary Slutkin, a physician, epidemiologist and Founder/Executive Director of Cure Violence, talks about treating gun violence like an epidemic and addressing it using the principles of public health (October 2013).




This is a pdf file compiled by Colorado Ceasefire that provides 2017 legislative talking points about federally mandated concealed carry, eliminating gun-free zones, and eliminating permit requirements for silencers, and general talking points about guns in America, background checks, high capacity magazines, and domestic violence.

10 Myths about Gun Violence in America (pdf file)

This 9-page report (pdf file), published by the Legal Community Against Violence in 2009, provides arguments for common statements made about gun violence.

Gun Regulation and the Second Amendment (pdf file)

This is a pdf file, prepared by the Legal Community Against Gun Violence in 2008, consisting of a 7-page discussion of The District of Columbia v. Heller Decision.



The New York Times: The Dying Art of Disagreement

The New York Times published this text of a lecture delivered at the Lowy Institute Media Award dinner in Sydney, Australia, on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017 (by Bret Stephens).

CNN Opinion: Part I: Why don’t facts matter?

This article, published by CNN Opinion on September 14, 2017, is the first of a two-part series in which neuroscientist Tali Sharot explains why giving people relevant facts often does little to alter deeply held beliefs. “…our brain assesses new information in light of the knowledge it has already stored, because in most cases that is, in fact, the optimal approach. More likely than not, when you encounter a piece of data that contradicts what you believe with confidence, that piece of data is in fact wrong.” (by Tali Sharot)

CNN Opinion: Part II: Want to change minds? Try this

This article, published by CNN Opinion on September 14, 2017, is the second of a two-part series in which neuroscientist Tali Sharot explains why giving people relevant facts often does little to alter deeply held beliefs and offers thoughts about what can be done to make a change. “Instead of fighting human biases, we need to work with those biases… “To elicit change we must first identify arguments that rely on common ground.” (by Tali Sharot)

The Guardian: How Our Desires Shape Our Beliefs

This article, published in The Guardian on August 27, 2017, discusses findings that “our desires are what shape our beliefs; our need for agency, our craving to be right, a longing to feel part of a group. It is those motivations we need to tap into to make a change, whether within ourselves or in others.” (by Tali Sharot)

Stanford Social Innovation Review: Persuasion in a “Post-Truth” World

Dated January 25, 2017, this piece summarizes a “persuasion toolkit [that uses] the best of behavioral, social, and cognitive science.” (by Troy Campbell, Lauren Griffin, and Annie Neimand)

Vox: Most people are bad at arguing—These 2 techniques will make you better

Dated January 13, 2017, this article offers strategies to make a convincing argument. (by Brian Resnick)

Spitfire: Mindful Messaging (pdf file)

This report (pdf file) discusses ways to facilitate two-way communication using insights from brain science and social science. (from Kristen Grimm, Spitfire President)

WBUR: Rare Common Ground: Gun Dealers and Public Health Workers Unite To Cut Suicides

On January 15, 2016, WBUR, which is Boston’s NPR news station, ran this story about a suicide prevention partnership between firearm retailers and public health workers. (by Richard Knox)

Forbes: The 21 Principles of Persuasion

On March 26, 2013, Forbes published this article about techniques to persuade people. (by Jason Nazar)

USA Today: Gun control, 5 common-ground steps: Our view

On January 29, 2013, USA Today published this article that outlines five common-ground firearms issues, including background checks, mental health database, straw purchases, rogue gun dealers, and public responsibility.

Finding Common Ground: Negotiating and Resolving Conflicts (by John Graham)

This short summary by John Graham describes elements of a negotiation process that can be used to find common ground with another person.

YouTube: Robert Cialdini—Moments of Power, the 6 Principles of Influence (14:55 min)

Robert Cialdini, CEO and President of INFLUENCE AT WORK, talks about applications of the 6 principles of influence in a keynote speech at the AADPA (American Academy of Dental Practice Administration) Annual Meeting (2013).



TEDxMileHigh: How To Talk About Guns And Suicide | Emmy Betz (6:46 min)

“This inspiring talk by injury prevention expert Emmy Betz shares her experience at the nexus of conversations about trauma, guns and suicide. Emmy is an emergency physician at the University of Colorado Hospital and an injury prevention researcher. She attended Yale University for her undergraduate training and Johns Hopkins her medical and public health training. She then completed her residency training at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Harvard Affiliated Emergency Medicine Residency program, where she served as chief resident. A Denver native, she was thrilled to return home to serve her state by working to promote health and prevent suicide, car crashes, and other forms of injury. Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and the Emergency Medicine Foundation, and she has published numerous research articles. She has also worked as an expert consultant with national organizations in suicide prevention.” (published on Jul 16, 2015)

Website: The Trace

“The Trace is an independent, nonprofit news organization dedicated to expanding coverage of guns in the United States. We believe that our country’s epidemic rates of firearm-related violence are coupled with a second problem: a shortage of information about the issue at large.” They offer an email subscription to receive a daily summary of important gun news and analysis.

Film: Making a Killing: Guns, Greed, and the NRA

This movie, released by Brave New Films in March 2016, “tells the stories of how guns, and the billions made off of them, affect the lives of everyday Americans. It features personal stories from people across the country who have been affected by gun violence, including survivors and victims’ families. The film exposes how the powerful gun companies and the NRA are resisting responsible legislation for the sake of profit – and thereby putting people in danger.” View the movie trailer on the website. Free copies of the movie are available for house and group screenings (DVDs are recommended instead of streaming).

Film: Newtown

“Filmed over the course of nearly three years, the filmmakers use unique access and never before heard testimonies to tell a story of the aftermath of the deadliest mass shooting of schoolchildren in American history on December 14, 2012. Newtown documents a traumatized community fractured by grief and driven toward a sense of purpose. Joining the ranks of a growing club to which no one wants to belong, a cast of characters interconnect to weave an intimate story of community resilience.” A broadcast kit is available.

Film: Trigger, the Ripple Effect of Gun Violence

This documentary film, developed by the Presbyterian Church USA, “shares the stories of individuals that encounter gun violence in various sectors of our communities: parents, children and siblings of victims, school teachers, trauma surgeons, law enforcement, legislators, pastors and grief counselors. Although we often think of a bullet as being an end, for those affected, it is only the beginning.” (length: 54 minutes; cost $19.99 for DVD and $5.00 for discussion guide)



Colorado Legislative Council: How to Testify Before a Legislative Committee (pdf file)

This April 14, 2016 memorandum (pdf file) from the Colorado Legislative Council Staff provides general information about the Colorado Legislature and gives tips about testifying before the Legislature.

How a Bill Becomes a Law in Colorado (video)

This YouTube video was prepared by the Colorado Office of Legislative Legal Services, which is a non-partisan, in-house counsel. It provides a description of the legislative process in Colorado from bill request through published statute.


A toolkit for testifying before policymakers.

ACLU: 10 Tips for Testifying Before a Legislative Committee (pdf file)

Tips from the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island for testifying.

YouTube: Tips on Testifying Before a Committee (5 min)

A 5-minute video by the Minnesota Senate Media Services that gives advice about testifying before legislators.



“Suicide accounts for more than two-thirds of the 32,000 firearms deaths the United States averages every year.”    The Trace, November 2, 2015

“Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for Americans aged 15 to 34, and more than 50 percent of cases involve guns. A big reason for the prevalence of firearms in suicides is the deadliness of guns themselves: When a firearm is used in a suicide attempt, there’s an 85 percent chance of it being successful.”    The Trace, November 2, 2015

“Gun violence is a leading cause of premature death in the U.S. Guns kill almost 30,000 people and cause 60,000 injuries each year. As a longtime advocate for violence prevention policies, APHA recognizes a comprehensive public health approach to addressing this growing crisis is necessary.”    American Public Health Association website

“It doesn’t appear that using a gun is much better than doing lots of other things; running away, calling the police, using some other weapon or mace or something, in terms of getting injured. The larger issue is the danger of having guns present in general. A gun in a home is a risk factor for suicide, it increases the likelihood that someone in the home will die of suicide.”    David Hemenway, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, interview on Boston Public Radio (6/17/16)

“In 2014, 42,773 Americans killed themselves according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Half did so with guns. That’s not only more than the number of Americans who were killed in mass shootings, it’s more than the number of people who were killed with guns in homicides and accidents combined.”    Washington Post, July 13, 2016

“The wide availability of guns in America matters for suicide because guns are more lethal than any other suicide method. According to CDC data, which includes suicide attempts that were serious enough that the person ended up in the emergency room or dead, 90 percent of people who shoot themselves die, but only 4 percent of people who poison themselves die.”    Washington Post, July 13, 2016

“The greater lethality of firearm suicides is apparent in the significant gap between male and female suicides. Men are much more likely to choose to use a gun, whereas women are much more likely to poison themselves. The result: Women attempt suicide 50 percent more often than men yet die from it a third as often.”    Washington Post, July 13, 2016

“Between 1993 and 2000, the gun homicide rate dropped by nearly half, from 7.0 homicides to 3.8 homicides per 100,000 people. Since then, the gun homicide rate has remained relatively flat. From 2009 to 2014, the most recent year data are available, the number of gun homicides has hovered around 11,000 and 12,000 per year. By contrast, a significantly higher – and growing – number of gun deaths were by suicide than by homicide, and this has been true throughout the past two decades.”    Pew Research Center, Fact Tank, October 21, 2015

“Household firearm ownership levels are strongly associated with higher rates of suicide, consistent with the hypothesis that the availability of lethal means increases the rate of completed suicide.”    Miller, M., Lippmann, S.J., Azrael, D., and Hemenway, D., 2007, Household firearm ownership and rates of suicide across the 50 United States: Journal of Trauma-Injury Infection & Critical Care, v. 62(4):1029-35, doi: 10.1097/01.ta.0000198214.24056.40.

“Changes in household firearm ownership over time are associated with significant changes in rates of suicide for men, women, and children. These findings suggest that reducing availability to firearms in the home may save lives, especially among youth.”    Miller, M., Azrael, D., Hepburn, L., Hemenway, D., and Lippmann, S.J., 2006, The association between changes in household firearm ownership and rates of suicide in the United States, 1981-2002: Injury Prevention, v. 12(3):178-82, doi: 10.1136/ip.2005.010850.

“We found a strong relationship between state-level firearm ownership and firearm suicide rates among both genders, and a relationship between firearm ownership and suicides by any means among male, but not female, individuals. For male persons, policies that reduce firearm ownership will likely reduce suicides by all means and by firearms. For female persons, such policies will likely reduce suicides by firearms.”    Siegel M, Rothman EF, 2016, Firearm ownership and suicide rates among US men and women, 1981-2013: American Journal of Public Health, v. 106(7):1316-22, doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2016.303182.

“Gun ownership was a significant predictor of firearm homicide rates (incidence rate ratio = 1.009; 95% confidence interval = 1.004, 1.014). This model indicated that for each percentage point increase in gun ownership, the firearm homicide rate increased by 0.9%. We observed a robust correlation between higher levels of gun ownership and higher firearm homicide rates. Although we could not determine causation, we found that states with higher rates of gun ownership had disproportionately large numbers of deaths from firearm-related homicides.”    Siegel, M., Ross, C.S., and King, C., III, 2013, The relationship between gun ownership and firearm homicide rates in the United States, 1981-2010: American Journal of Public Health, v. 103(11):2098-2105, doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2013.301409.

“In the United States, state firearm ownership has been correlated with homicide rates. More than 90% of homicides of law enforcement officers (LEOs) are committed with firearms. High public gun ownership is a risk for occupational mortality for LEOs in the United States. States could consider methods for reducing firearm ownership as a way to reduce occupational deaths of LEOs.”    Swedler, D.I., Simmons, M.M., Dominici, F., and Hemenway, D., 2015, Firearm prevalence and homicides of law enforcement officers in the United States: American Journal of Public Health, v. 105(10):2042-2048, doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2015.302749.