Violence Policy Center Report Discusses Ways to Improve Data Collection in California to Aid Violence Prevention Efforts

For Release: Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Para la versión en español haga “click” aquí.

Washington, DC – In order to address the disproportionate impact of gun violence on communities of color—especially within the Latino community—data collection needs to improve, according to the new Violence Policy Center (VPC) report Data Collection in California in Support of Violence Prevention: Strengths, Limitations, and Opportunities.

Funded by the Hope and Heal Fund—a collaborative fund to stop gun violence in California—the report presents in-depth interviews with California experts on ways that data collection in the state can be improved, especially in terms of better identifying race and ethnicity and integrating different data sets to improve their utility to offer a more complete picture of the full impact of gun death and injury on residents and aid violence-prevention efforts.

Available in both English ( and Spanish (, the report is drawn from the February 2019 VPC study Lethal Hispanic/Latino Firearm Victimization in California, which details the disproportionate impact of lethal gun violence on Hispanics/Latinos in California.

VPC Executive Director Josh Sugarmann states, “For decades, California has been the nation’s leader not only in identifying effective approaches to reducing gun violence, but in gathering the data necessary to help us better understand its many impacts. To ensure that progress continues to be made, Californians working to reduce violence in their communities need the best information available, not only to better understand the issues they’re facing, but also identify the most effective violence prevention strategies.”

Experts interviewed for the study were: Christian Arana, Policy Director, Latino Community Foundation; Andrea Welsing, Director, and Isabelle Sternfeld, Epidemiologist, Injury & Violence Prevention Program, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health; Garen Wintemute, Director, and Veronica Pear, Data Analyst, Violence Prevention Research Program (VPRP) at the University of California, Davis; and, Steve Wirtz, Chief, Injury Surveillance and Epidemiology Section, California Department of Public Health.

Common themes and key points that emerged from interviews with these experts included the following.

  • The need to have the most accurate data available at the most localized level possible.
  • Improving the ability to tie databases or data sets together to offer the most comprehensive picture of death and injury that can be obtained.
  • In addition to collecting and tabulating data on death and injury, examining the community and societal contexts in which these events occur.
  • Increasing the reliability of race and ethnicity documentation.
  • For publicly available databases, making the information as accessible and understandable as possible to increase its utility to all users.

The report also includes a set of recommendations to improve data collection, including information on race and ethnicity.

The report concludes: “Because of limitations in data collection, the true scale of gun violence’s impact on Hispanic/Latino men, women, boys, and girls in California is not fully known. Comprehensive, consistent, and reliable information from a broad range of sources is necessary to ensure that violence prevention policies work to save lives, protect families, and ensure healthy communities. This is true not only for Hispanics/Latinos in California, but for all residents of the state.”

For a PDF of the English language version of the study, Data Collection in California in Support of Violence Prevention: Strengths, Limitations, and Opportunities, see:

For a PDF of the Spanish language version of the study, Recolección de datos en California para apoyar la prevención de la violencia: fortalezas, limitaciones y oportunidades, see:



The Violence Policy Center is a national educational organization working to stop gun death and injury. Follow the VPC on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

The Hope and Heal Fund is the only collaborative fund committed to preventing gun violence in California. The Hope and Heal Fund invests in innovative, strategic and evidence-based solutions to prevent gun violence, by harnessing the collective power of individuals, communities, government and philanthropy to ensure homes and communities in California are safe and free from gun death, injury and trauma. For more information about the Hope and Heal Fund, please visit and follow @HopeandHealFund on Twitter.

Media Contact:
Georgia Seltzer
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