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Democrats Push to Restart CDC Funding for Gun Violence Research; NRA Calls It “Unethical”

| May 21, 2014

Why not research gun safety and gun-violence prevention? (Terence T.S. Tam)

Why not research gun safety and gun-violence prevention? (Terence T.S. Tam)

Two Congressional Democrats are unveiling legislation this morning that would restart the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s gun violence research efforts.

Since 1996, when a small CDC-funded study on the risks of owning a firearm ignited opposition from Republicans, the CDC’s budget for research on firearms injuries has shrunk to zero.

The result, as we’ve detailed, is that many basic questions about gun violence — such ashow many Americans are shot each year — remain unanswered.

The new legislation, which will be introduced by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) in the House, and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) in the Senate, would give the CDC $10 million a year “for the purpose of conducting or supporting research on firearms safety or gun violence prevention.”

“In America, gun violence kills twice as many children as cancer, and yet political grandstanding has halted funding for public health research to understand this crisis,” Maloney said in a statement.

A National Rifle Association spokeswoman called the push for new CDC funding “unethical.”

“The abuse of taxpayer funds for anti-gun political propaganda under the guise of ‘research’ is unethical,” spokeswoman Catherine Mortensen said in a statement to ProPublica. “That is why Congress should stand firm against President Obama’s scheme to undermine a fundamental constitutional right.”

Maloney, who co-sponsored the 1994 assault weapons ban, is a long-time gun control advocate. Earlier this year, she and Markey encouraged President Obama to include CDC funding in his proposed 2015 budget, which he did.

Obama’s proposal has been opposed by key Republicans, and so far, Markey and Maloney’s legislation has not attracted any Republican support. “On the House side, we have over 20 co-sponsors already. We do not have a Republican,” Maloney said at a press conference this morning.

“The President’s request to fund propaganda for his gun-grabbing initiatives though the CDC will not be included in the FY2015 appropriations bill,” Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), chairman of the appropriations subcommittee that traditionally sets CDC funding, told ProPublica last month.

The CDC sponsors a wide variety of disease and injury prevention programs, focusing on everything from HIV/AIDS to averting falls by elderly people. Since 2007, the CDC has spent less than $100,000 a year on firearms-focused work, according to a CDC spokeswoman. The money goes not for research but for a very rough, annual estimate of the number of Americans injured by shootings.

The NRA’s director of public affairs told CNN last year that more government-funded gun research is not needed.

“What works to reduce gun violence is to make sure that criminals are prosecuted and those who have been found to be a danger to themselves or others don’t have access to firearms,” Andrew Arulanandam said. “Not to carry out more studies.”

Professional groups that represent doctors, including the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, support the push for more research funding. In a letter last summer, the associations wrote that “the dearth of gun violence research has contributed to the lack of meaningful progress in reducing firearm injuries,” and noted that “firearm injuries are one of the top three causes of death among youth.”

The CDC is not the only source of federal funding for gun violence research. The Justice Department — which has funded gun violence prevention studies since the 1980s — gavenearly $2 million to firearms violence projects last year, and is offering as much as $1.5 million in research funding this year.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), which invests $30 billion in medical research each year, put out a call last fall for new research projects on gun violence prevention.It’s not yet clear how much money the NIH will devote to the research. The NIH will announce the gun violence projects it will fund in September and December, a spokeswoman said.

A report last year from experts convened by the federally funded Institute of Medicineoutlined the current priorities for research on reducing gun violence. Among the questions that need answers, according to the report: How often do Americans successfully use guns to protect themselves each year? Could improved “smart gun” technologies reduce gun deaths and injuries, and will consumers be willing to adopt them? And would universal background checks — the most popular and prominent gun control policy proposal — actually reduce gun violence?


–Lois Beckett, ProPublica

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8 Responses for “Democrats Push to Restart CDC Funding for Gun Violence Research; NRA Calls It “Unethical””

  1. A.S.F. says:

    I guess the question of actual lethality is not NEARLY as important as theoretical “ethical considerations”…so saith the NRA and Republican Party.

  2. Mary Cannady says:

    I can save the government their time and money. Just read the newspaper for the stats. The NRA director is missing a major point and that is children killed by guns are done so by law abiding citizens who don’t have the common sense to lock their firearms and remove the ammo!!! Locking away the bad guys will not save these children.

  3. A.S.F. says:

    And if the NRA had nothing to hide from actual statistics being public, they wouldn’t be trying so hard to keep such data out of the public eye.

  4. Reasonable America says:

    If England decided to do this back in the 18th Century, they would have certainly tried to link gun owners to reformers and those who came to start America. The Bill of Rights were written for very specific reasons and to ensure Americans the right to freedom.

    So many use prescription drugs inappropriately and many deaths occur each day due to overdose, improper usage and sometimes by accident. By your logic, we should remove any and all prescription drugs from the hands of patients, doctors in hopes there would be no drugs to hurt people.

    • A.S.F. says:

      Trying to deflect any reasonable discussion of gun control by comparing guns to anything and everything else under the sun does not change reality. Reality is that there are too many guns freely available to too many people not fit to use them at their questionable discretion.

  5. ooops says:

    So the Center for Disease Control is going to study discharging of firearms. Is this a disease now? I know lets quarantine each person who discharges a firearm until such time as to be sure they aren’t going to transmit a disease to the rest of the populace.

    My problem is that this study should be about the laws already in effect that make it illegal for :
    unsupervised children to access firearms,
    Suicide is illegal too,
    murder is definitely on the books as illegal.

    If you want to study a disease, find a disease and then correlate firearm discharges to it. Not deploy an agency who only looks at their investigations in a medical light to interview owners of machinery.

    Maybe they should study car accidents instead of DHSMV or NTSB.

  6. Sherry Epley says:

    Not to confuse anyone with information, the CDC is actually responsible for much more than disease control:

    Primary Functions of the CDC
    The CDC is actually comprised of several distinct agencies with different functions, including the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and six coordinating centers:

    the Coordinating Center for Environmental Health and Injury Prevention, which deals with pollutants and occupational health;
    the Coordinating Center for Health Information Service, a resource for credible, timely health information;
    the Coordinating Center for Health Promotion, which encourages healthy living;
    the Coordinating Center for Infectious Diseases;
    the Coordinating Office for Global Health, which works with foreign governments and non-governmental organizations to foster health care worldwide
    the Coordinating Office for Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response.
    The last agency, in particular, has a supremely important mission in light of recent disasters, both man-made and natural, and in preventing or mitigating future threats.

    Folks, the amassing of weapons of mass destruction (AKA guns), even domestically, falls into the realm of terrorism.

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