141 groups urge Congress to fund gun violence research

A coalition of more than 100 health care, science and research universities and other groups is urging Congress to drop the federal ban on gun violence research.

In a letter addressed to leadership in the House and Senate Appropriations committees, the 141 groups urged for the rider amendments which effectively defund Centers for Disease Control and Prevention research on gun violence be dropped.

“Gun violence is a serious public health epidemic resulting in the senseless deaths of an average of 91 Americans, and another 108 gun injuries, each and every day. A central part of preventing future tragedies is through conducting rigorous scientific research as this has been a proven successful approach in reducing deaths due to other injuries,” the letter reads.

The rider language the letter refers to are known as the Dickey amendments, named for former Rep. Jay Dickey, R-AR, who introduced the legislation some 20 years ago and has since recanted, agreeing the measures should be repealed.

More than 100 House Democrats in October urged their chamber’s leaders to end a longstanding ban on federal funding for gun violence research.

When introducing his amendment in 1996, Dickey called the CDC’s research an attempt to “raise emotional sympathy” and politicize the issue of gun violence.   

Dickey’s amendments were attached to an appropriations bill which called for blocking the CDC research that would “advocate or promote gun control.” This, plus a lateral defunding has stymied the federal agency in conducting any meaningful and regular research.

President Obama issued a list of executive orders in January 2013, just a month after the Sandy Hook massacre, giving the CDC $10 million and directing the federal agency to conduct its gun violence research.

The CDC has since funded a few studies, including one it underwrote in 2013 and another in November.

For the groups urging Congress to act, the research can help lawmakers protect toddlers from accidental firearm discharge, prevent gun-related suicides and other firearm injury and death. They also hope to impact state policy on safe storage, mental health, public education and background checks.

For gun rights groups, any research on gun violence prevention is a potential weapon used against them in stripping Americans of their Second Amendment right to self defense. More research will lead to more laws and “there isn’t a shred of evidence to support the claim that more gun control laws will lead to fewer gun deaths,” an NRA spokesperson told Guns.com previously.