California Legislature approves $5M for gun violence research center
California State Senate president pro tempore Kevin de León spoke at a press conference May 9 about a proposal in the legislature for a gun violence research center. (April Hoang/ Daily Bruin senior staff)
By Rupan Bharanidaran
June 17, 2016 7:20 p.m.
This post was updated June 19 at 2:30 p.m.
The California Legislature agreed Thursday to allocate $5 million to create a University of California gun violence research center.
Lawmakers passed the state budget, which included the center’s funding, on Wednesday.
The UC has not determined where the center will be located, said UC spokesperson Claire Doan.
The center aims to study the causes behind gun violence incidents, such as the June 1 murder-suicide at UCLA and the June 12 mass shooting in Orlando, Florida.
“(This deal) comes on the heels of the Orlando tragedy and underscores our need to better understand the impact of firearm violence,” Doan said.
Some UCLA student leaders are pushing for the center to be located at UCLA.
Undergraduate student government External Vice President Rafi Sands said he thinks the center is a good response to Congress’ inaction on gun violence research.
Congress has blocked funding for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to research gun violence since 1994.
Sands added he thinks California cannot influence nationwide gun violence through its own gun control laws alone, but a research center could provide useful information for federal lawmakers.
“The center will be able to funnel the research and scientific knowledge of the university into political action on gun violence,” Sands said.
Tanner Kelly, who graduated this year and served as the USAC External Vice President state relations director, said student leaders will lobby for UCLA to host the center. Kelly added they will be working with Chancellor Gene Block, state lawmakers and the UC Office of the President.
He added he thinks UCLA has the resources to accommodate the center.
“UCLA already has an incredible school of public health and a world-renowned psychology department,” Kelly said.
State Sen. Ben Allen said in an email statement he hopes UCLA will be chosen as the site of the center, but he will have no influence in the final selection.
“That decision will ultimately be made by the UC Board of Regents, who are autonomous from the legislature,” Allen added.
If UCLA is chosen to host the center, student leaders will search for additional private donors to supplement the $5 million provided by the state, said USAC President Danny Siegel.
Siegel said he also plans work with student leaders from other UC campuses to advocate against gun violence.
“This is not an issue that is by any means local,” he said. “Other campuses like UC Santa Barbara, have also been affected by gun violence. We want to make an impact wherever possible.”
Governor Jerry Brown has until June 30 to sign the budget bill, which includes funding for the research center.
Email Bharanidaran at [email protected] or tweet @rbharanidaran.