New Mexico is one of 10 states selected to receive funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to participate in a three-year study on firearm injuries.

Gun control advocates say such a study is long overdue and will help local and state governments figure out how and where to direct resources aimed at reducing gun violence that doesn’t end in death but still destroys lives by inflicting wounds and expenses.

“It’s actually exciting,” said Miranda Viscoli, co-president of the nonprofit New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence.

“We’ve been flying blind,” she said in an interview Friday. “We don’t know how much it’s costing our state. We don’t know how many people are actually being injured because the data isn’t being collected. We know how many are being shot and killed, and those are horrific numbers.

“The more we can get any data [on gun violence] … the more we can work on prevention with a multipronged approach,” Viscoli continued. “… There is an uptick here in New Mexico, and we need to rein it in. We needed to rein it in 20 years ago, and now it’s getting worse and worse.”

The study, scheduled to last through 2023, will involve collecting data in “near real-time” from emergency room visits for treatment of nonfatal gunshot wounds. The data will be used to develop policy changes and recommendations for allocation of resources.

For example, Viscoli said, a recent increase in gun violence among young people in Santa Fe appears to be tied to drug deals, many involving methamphetamine. Emergency room data on how many survivors of gunshot wounds had the drug in their system could confirm the trend and help inform attempts to combat it.

The CDC has awarded about $2.2 million for the study, according to a news release. The District of Columbia also will participate in the study, along with Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Oregon, Utah, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.

New Mexico has been awarded $150,000 per year for the duration of the study, state Department of Health spokeswoman Hannah Long said.

Health Department staff wrote in an application for the program “a high percentage of New Mexico’s population owns firearms.” The application quoted a 2013 study that found an estimated 49.9 percent of New Mexico adults owned firearms, as opposed to 29.1 percent of U.S. adults overall.

New Mexico ranked fourth in the nation in 2019 for its rate of gun deaths, CDC data shows. It also ranked second in the nation that year for the rate of women murdered by men, according to the most recent edition of an annual study by the Violence Policy Center titled “When Men Murder Women.” The state’s rate of 2.64 homicide deaths per 100,000 females in 2019 is more than twice the national rate, the Violence Policy Center said in a statement.

Viscoli said New Mexicans to Prevent Gun violence is lobbying state lawmakers to get serious about the issue.

“We’re working to pass legislation this next session to start an office of gun violence prevention,” she said. “Then government can take this data and start really figuring out how the state of New Mexico can get ahead of what is our other pandemic. Because this is also filling up our hospital beds. They are getting two to three victims every day in Albuquerque. And this could help us get head of that.”

Viscoli said Democratic state Reps. Dayan Hochman-Vigil and Kay Bounkeua, both of Albuquerque, have agreed to sponsor the legislation.

(7) comments

Khal Spencer

Without getting into the usual firefight over the Second Amendment or Article II, § 6 of the Constitution of New Mexico, it would have been useful to know who the P.I.'s are who are getting the money and what their research credentials are that will add to what the existing people working this field can tell us. I know a person or two in the DOH's Injury Prevention group from my bicycle safety work and they are understaffed and underfunded. This could actually be a good thing. Is UNM involved? Are we tagging existing organizations for help such as Dr. Emmy Betz at the U of Colorado Firearm Injury Prevention Initiative?

Based on national publications in the peer-reviewed literature, I suspect we know a lot more than what is being admitted here. That said, there is nothing wrong with more study to see how we can apply what we know to New Mexico, such as applying Andrew Papachristos' work** and adding our own spin based on local issues. If I were P.I. on this, I would start with a literature search and review and getting some external reviewers in the room.


My cynicism comes in when we know what is going on already (drugs, gangs, poor educational outcomes, domestic violence, dysfunctional families, guns left in sock drawers, etc) and fail to do anything about it anyway. You can study a problem to death but if you aren't willing to solve it, its just more reports sitting and gathering dust. Our control of guns in NM is pretty lame, leading to incidents such as teens shooting up neighborhoods and then OD'ing after hiding their drugs in bodily orifices (see related story in today's paper).

Maybe we can all take a glass-half-full approach about this?

Khal Spencer

I forgot a few "... drugs, gangs, poor educational outcomes, domestic violence, dysfunctional families, kids left to grow up with absentee parents, guns left in sock drawers, pretrial release of dangerous felons, failure to monitor the GPS bracelets on nights and weekends so that people arrested for violent crimes just cut them off, a revolving door criminal justice system, and let's see....I'm sure I still missed some.

So my problem is that almost everything the Legislature has proposed adds more burden to law abiding citizens while doing nothing to address the above mentioned reason criminals, juveniles, and gang members roam the streets with guns in the first place. New Mexico has a lot of guns in private hands and with little to no deterrence on using them badly, Bob's your uncle.

Not to mention, a lot of these so-called gun research programs are examples of confirmation bias. There is a lot of junk science out there and a little bit of pretty good stuff.

For example the legislature passed and the governor signed a red flag bill so poorly written that its only been used four times. In Florida, a far gun-friendlier state, its red flag bill was implemented, last time I checked, over 3,000 times. It has a higher burden of proof than ours, too. Wonder what is wrong in New Mexico. Our DA wants to put lipstick on a pig rather than rewrite the bill from scratch so it has buy in from police across New Mexico. CATO had a nicely written model red flag bill and I think its been used as an example elsewhere. Our progressives will have none of it.

Still, I am trying to see the glass as half full in this case. Until it isn't.

Jerrie Eaton

NM does not have a gun problem. NM has a criminal problem that the powers that be refuse to address. Miranda Viscoli is a Bloomberg paid shill. We do not need any new gun laws. Wake up NM the sole and only goal of Viscoli and the anti gun Dems is to deny you your 2nd amendment rights. With the help of the Governor and her AG they want to be California Lite. Visccoli needs to go back West Hollywood where she belongs and take all those cackling red shirted old ladies with her.

Miranda Viscoli

Uh... where to start with your dribble of lies. I am not and have not ever been associated with Bloomberg or Moms Demand Action. I am not paid by ANYONE. I was born and raised in New Mexico not West Hollywood. FYI. 64% of our gun deaths are suicide. Why is asking for research and data on gun violence against the second amendment? Why are you afraid of the actual numbers of those shot and injured in our state?

Jerrie Eaton

Unfortunately for you it's not a dribble of lies. Wither your funding comes directly from Bloomberg or gets filtered thru other entities before it gets to you is irrelevant. It still comes from Bloomberg like about 80% of all anti gun funding. And FYI suicide by gun is closer to 70% nation wide. And, if you were able to magically eliminate every gun in the country it would not have any effect on the suicide numbers. But of course you know that. Gun violence research is just another ploy to restrict gun rights and further your attack the 2nd Amendment. While you may have been born and raised here in NM, up until about 3-4 years ago you were living in West Hollywood and were a very active part of the California anti gun/2nd Amendment movement. And look at the mess you helped create there. And now you want to bring it here. NM does not have a gun problem, Albuquerque has a criminal problem. And the reason it has a criminal problem is because the powers that be refuse to do anything about it. Instead of taking care of the actual problem you hide behind the problem while pushing your anti gun agenda which will have absolutely no effect on crime and killing. The people of NM are not jumping up and down and screaming for ineffective gun laws that accomplish nothing other than to push your Bloomberg anti gun agenda. You don't need a research committee to figure out that if you take the criminals off the streets your mostly imaginary gun problems will go away. So please, go back to west Hollywood and be their problem not ours.

Kirk Holmes


Kirk Holmes

Violence is violence, no matter the method. Why not study all types of root causes for violence instead of focusing on an inanimate object? ………. yep …….. “Agenda”.

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