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Creating more voices: UW’s Firearms Research Center launched

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

University of Wyoming (UW) Firearms Research Center (FRC) Co-Founder Ashley Hlebinsky, former curator of the Cody Firearms Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center, was this year’s opening keynote speaker at the Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA) Annual Summer Convention and Trade Show June 7-9. 

During Hlebinsky’s presentation on June 8, she articulated the need to bring more voices to the firearms discussion, generate new scholars and remove silos, creating opportunities to exchange knowledge.

Building opportunities

Earlier this year, the FRC, which is housed in UW’s College of Law, was officially unveiled and operations began pioneering research for peer review and public use.

“After years of hard work, we are thrilled to launch the FRC and know its impact will be widespread and meaningful,” stated Hlebinsky.

She explained the FRC hopes to unite scholars and experts, creating an open dialogue which will transform how firearms are discussed and understood. 

Currently in the U.S., there is an ongoing debate over the Second Amendment, with little cross-disciplinary work forming an unbalanced narrative.

Hlebinsky noted she and her co-founder George Mocsary, a law professor at UW, want to establish a center to generate more voices in the firearms discussion and to encourage new scholars.

“Options for students in the U.S. who want to study firearms are limited, and many are centered around politics, legislative gun restrictions or public health,” she stated.

“There is no other place in the U.S. to study firearms, past and present, in a non-bipartisan setting. We need to have a balanced dialogue on the topic,” Hlebinsky added.  

She continued, “We are experiencing a lack of scholarship on the topic of firearms and we need to build a repository of knowledge, and the center is intended to facilitate a new stance on the study of firearms by incorporating nontraditional and traditional coursework, leading to certifications or degrees.”

“Most of the current scholarship around firearms contains technical inaccuracies despite being passed through the academic review system into publication,” she stated.

Hlebinsky expressed, “A limited number of experts understanding technical firearm information creates a flawed peer review system leading to inconsistent and inaccurate research. However, we are excited to see this change through the center’s work.”

“Another exciting resource the center has to offer is its interactive website. It will host firearms-related data, research and related law to serve as a resource for academics, practitioners, lawmakers, media members and the public,” she added. 

The website’s functionality will continue to grow and provide live information on current court cases and other relevant topics around firearms. Furthermore, this information will offer a reliable center of excellence for journalists and others who seek to communicate about firearms topics with more than emotion and oversimplification.

Community outreach

FRC prides itself on being a center that also focuses on the community. The center will offer a variety of public events and educational resources. 

Hlebinsky said, “The center will be home to firearm education and facilitate gun safety material to create a broader knowledge.”

“We want to do right by our community. And, to show our support and commitment, the FRC will host several events, including hunter education, firearm safety and hunter therapy classes. The center is also excited to announce we are partnering with the Wyoming Department of Health to create a suicide prevention program,” Hlebinsky expressed

Wyoming has led the U.S. in suicides since 2018, and the state’s suicide rate continues to climb, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. To help support local communities, FRC will provide suicide awareness and prevention resources and host events to address gun safety.  

Hlebinksy explained this will include resources for individuals who may voluntarily surrender their firearm when they feel the need to set them aside, turning them over to the gun shops or the other secure facilities, while they get through a personal crisis.

Hlebinsky also shared exciting news about the center co-hosting the 2023 Firearms Law Works-In-Progress Workshop with the Duke Center for Firearms Law this June in Fort Worth, Texas.  

The center is in its early stages of development but is already seeing positive changes, allowing diverse voices to enter the firearms debate while impacting the future of firearms.

Melissa Anderson is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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