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Three images of FIPI's collaboration. The first image shows the community partner work, with FIPI affiliates and community members posing in a group photo. The second shows two FIPI affiliates standing in front of a table smiling, displaying locking device information and flyers. The third shows FIPI and Center for COMBAT Research leaders standing in front of the firearm suicide prevention summit presentation.

CU Firearm Injury Prevention Initiative Highlights Key Accomplishments from Inaugural Year

The initiative released its first report detailing achievements in research, education, and collaboration.

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Written by Colleen Miracle on April 23, 2024

Last April, the University of Colorado Firearm Injury Prevention Initiative (FIPI) launched with a $4.5 million investment from the CU School of Medicine to work toward preventing firearm-related injuries and deaths in homes and communities across Colorado and the U.S. through collaboration, research, and education.

Today, FIPI celebrates their inaugural year and details key accomplishments in their annual report. The initiative has helped to further establish the CU Anschutz Medical Campus as a national leader in firearm injury prevention research. Over the past year, the initiative has provided resources on customer education to firearm industry leaders, developed resources for clinicians, strengthened relationships with state, military, hospital, community, and government partners, and mentored students and young professionals in the field of firearm injury prevention.

“Our program has become a hub of creativity, where diverse perspectives converge to create solutions that transcend demographic, geographic, and political boundaries,” says Emmy Betz, MD, MPH, professor of emergency medicine and director of FIPI.

A rapidly-growing research portfolio

FIPI researchers were awarded new external grant funding to support studies on issues including Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) use in Colorado, peer-to-peer lethal means safety interventions, firearm suicide prevention in individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder, firearm and medication storage decision-making tools, the annual administration of the Colorado Firearm Injury Prevention Survey (COFIPS), and the Pause to Protect program for firearm businesses.

To develop and research innovative approaches to firearm injury prevention in varied settings, FIPI supports a faculty affiliate network. The network includes 26 faculty from three CU campuses and multiple departments and professional fields all committed to advancing prevention of firearm-related harms. In FIPI’s first year, affiliated researchers were authors on 37 academic manuscripts published in peer-reviewed journals.

“I’m proud of the significant growth of our research portfolio and our support of scientists who are early in their careers,” Betz shares. “We are dedicated to bringing people together for mentoring and funding opportunities.”

In addition to a growing research portfolio among established researchers and the affiliate network, FIPI is committed to supporting early career investigators making meaningful contributions to the field. FIPI has fostered growth of the next generation of firearm injury prevention researchers through regular work-in-progress meetings, career mentoring, and pilot grant awards. Notably, FIPI affiliate Maya Haasz, MD, received a prestigious National Institutes of Health career development award for her work in adolescent firearm suicide prevention.

In October, Betz was elected as a new member of the National Academy of Medicine, spotlighting her commitment to firearm injury prevention and suicide prevention, engagement with local and national communities, and groundbreaking research. Betz shares that, in addition to the honor, she was grateful the recognition would bring national prominence to FIPI’s work.


Leslie Barnard, MPH, stands with her poster presentation at a conference in 2023 for her research paper, Characterization of Mass Shootings by State.

Partnerships carrying the mission forward

In its first year, FIPI both led and contributed to local and national firearm injury prevention efforts through strategic partnerships, community engagement, and outreach.

Through a major academic-state partnership with the Colorado Office of Gun Violence Prevention (OGVP), FIPI and experts from the Injury and Violence Prevention Center in the Colorado School of Public Health launched the Colorado Gun Violence Prevention Resource Bank, a research and data hub designed for use by diverse audiences ranging from researchers to the general public. Additionally, FIPI is working on multiple projects to support OGVP with evaluation of its programs and outreach efforts.

FIPI also partnered with the only hospital-based violence intervention program (HVIP) in the Rocky Mountain region, At-risk Intervention and Mentoring (AIM). AIM works with community partner Gang Rescue and Support Project (GRASP) and now has sites at Denver Health, UCHealth, and Children’s Hospital of Colorado. Over the past year, AIM served 760 individuals. With support from FIPI faculty, the AIM team is at the forefront of establishing and disseminating best practices for HVIPs.

“We shape all that we do around our commitment to be a trusted community partner and resource for organizations both locally and nationally, pursuing the same goal of preventing firearm injury and death,” says Jessica Buck-Atkinson, MPH, program director for FIPI. “There is such amazing work being led by individuals and organizations who we collaborate with. We are thrilled to support and amplify these efforts with the skillset and resources we bring as an academic partner.”

The U.S. military has been a key partner in supporting FIPI in both research and collaboration, particularly in preventing firearm suicides and other injuries among military communities nationally. FIPI co-hosted the second annual military firearm suicide prevention summit at CU Anschutz with the CU Center for Combat Medicine and Battlefield (COMBAT) Research. The summit brought together high-level military leaders, civilian partners, community organizations, and firearm industry leaders to discuss current research, programmatic and research needs, creative solutions, and opportunities for synergy across all partner organizations.

summit_whole group

Group photo with military and civilian collaborators from the 2023 Military Firearm Suicide Prevention Summit,
hosted by FIPI and the CU Center for COMBAT Research at CU Anschutz.

Opening the door for conversation

With suicide as the leading cause of fatal firearm injury in Colorado, FIPI has focused on educating communities on the prevalence of firearm suicide and how simple actions, like secure firearm storage, can save lives. Engaging and partnering with firearm owners and businesses continues to open doors for honest conversations and creative solutions.

FIPI regularly attends gun shows across the state to raise awareness, promote secure storage, and provide firearm locking devices. Over the past year, the FIPI team attended six gun shows and distributed 785 firearm locking devices. The events have given the FIPI team opportunities to answer questions directly and gather anonymous feedback through surveys from attendees to gauge understanding and perceptions on firearm injury, and thereby inform future research, education initiatives, and the development of new resources.

Firearm retailers, shooting ranges, and training centers are trusted voices among communities of firearm owners, and collaborating with them for injury prevention is important to the initiative. To support businesses who are interested in developing and integrating programs and services which encourage secure storage, FIPI also began offering virtual “office hours.”

“Because we approach this work from an apolitical position, FIPI has the unique ability to cultivate collaboration and diverse partnerships, united in a shared purpose,” says Re Gupta-Fitzgerald, collaboration and partnerships coordinator for FIPI. “It's exciting to see such innovation bring together research and community expertise to identify relevant solutions.”


The FIPI team sharing resources and conversation at a national conference, 2023.

Educational impact

Education on implementing firearm injury prevention approaches goes hand-in-hand with FIPI’s collaborative and outreach efforts. FIPI emphasizes educating health science students and practitioners across fields on integrating collaborative, evidence-based approaches into diverse practice settings.

The team developed resources and networks to support students and early career professionals, led trainings to support clinicians and practitioners in Colorado and nationally, hosted a webinar series throughout the year, and presented to clinical education programs on campus. Over 50 organizations across the U.S. sought FIPI’s guidance over the past year.

“Firearm injury is a complex, multi-faceted problem that cannot be solved with one single solution,” Buck-Atkinson explains. “There is a role for everyone. True prevention requires action and leadership across a diversity of sectors, all utilizing their unique skills, talents, and influence to save lives.”

Later this year, FIPI will launch an innovative educational opportunity, the Firearm Injury Prevention Leadership Engagement and Development (FIP-LEAD) program, designed to equip multi-sector leaders in Colorado with the knowledge and skills to engage in collaborative, evidence-based, and locally-driven prevention of firearm injuries, deaths, and other harms. Each FIP-LEAD offering will be led by FIPI faculty and staff, and tailored to a professional sector, such as health care and K-12 education.


Erin Wright-Kelly, DrPh, MA, presents "Best Practices in Academic-Community Partnerships to Implement Effective Firearm Injury Prevention Strategies at the National Research Conference for the Prevention of Firearm-Related Harms in November 2023.

Collective momentum and shared purpose

The FIPI team of staff, faculty, students, and partners continues to grow as they expand research, educational, and outreach efforts. The shared purpose to prevent firearms-related injuries and deaths in homes and communities is weaved into each aspect of FIPI’s work and highlighted throughout the annual report.

Betz looks forward to what the next year will bring and the opportunities FIPI seeks to progress collectively.

“Each faculty member, student, staff member, supporter, and community partner has played a key role in shaping the success story of our inaugural year,” she shares. “It is this collective effort that propels us forward with confidence and momentum, knowing that together, we can progress even further and achieve much more. Looking to the future, we appreciate the support of individuals who make our work possible.”

On behalf of the CU Firearm Injury Prevention Initiative: “We value our community members supporting our team’s mission to prevent firearms-related injuries and deaths in homes and communities. As we embrace the opportunities and challenges that await, we do so with a sense of shared purpose, determination, and the unwavering belief that together, we can create a safer and healthier future.”