Democrats this week introduced bicameral bills to Congress that aim to give the Centers for Disease Control big bucks to support research into guns. 

The Gun Violence Prevention Research Act of 2021 would appropriate $50 million to the CDC each fiscal year from 2022 through 2027, "for the purpose of conducting or supporting research on firearms safety or gun violence prevention." The legislation was introduced jointly by Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., and Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., who were not coy about what laws the research would be used as justification to enact. 

"We know of the commonsense solutions like the need for better and more robust background checks and the need to renew the assault weapons ban, but we must also seek other solutions,” said Maloney in a statement. "And we do that by studying gun violence like the public health crisis it is." 

In the House, Maloney's bill is H.R. 825, which has 48 co-sponsors. In the Senate, Markey's bill is S.281, which has 36 co-sponsors. As of Thursday, no Republican has signed on to either proposal. 

Notably, the CDC falls under the Secretary of Health and Human Services, a cabinet-level appointment. The Biden administration has tapped California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to fill the seat. A long-time Democrat who formerly represented California on Capitol Hill, Becerra is a proponent for both expanded background checks and a national ban on popular semi-auto firearms. 

Meanwhile, national anti-gun groups backed by billionaire former Democrat Presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg applauded the proposed outlay in public treasure to help gin up research that supports their agenda. 

"The pandemic has made America’s gun violence epidemic even deadlier, and research into the causes of gun violence and the life-saving solutions has never been more necessary,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown. “We’re grateful to Senator Markey and Congresswoman Maloney for leading the charge to fund this critical research."

"This is nothing more than political posturing with the taxpayers’ dollars, all in an attempt to legislate out the rights guaranteed to the People by the U.S. Constitution." - Mark Oliva, NSSF.


The trade association for the gun industry had a different take on the initiative. 

"Representative Maloney and Senator Markey introduced a bill to spend taxpayer money not to find solutions but to pre-draw conclusions to support their anti-gun animus," Mark Oliva, public affairs director of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, told in an email. 

Oliva pointed out that Maloney and Markey ignore the fact that a crime wave occurred in 2020 and that Congress already approved $25 million for the CDC to do much the same research in 2019, and in years prior, only without the results the lawmakers wanted. 

"The fact is, the CDC has studied guns and suicide, noise and lead exposure at ranges, firearm violence prevention in Wilmington, Del., and issued a report on firearms homicides and suicides in metropolitan areas," said Oliva. "That doesn’t include studies by the FBI, Department of Justice, and Congressional studies. President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order directing $10 million in 'gun violence' research in 2013." 

"This is nothing more than political posturing with the taxpayers’ dollars, all in an attempt to legislate out the rights guaranteed to the People by the U.S. Constitution," he said. 

One Second Amendment safeguard in past CDC funding for the past 24 years is the so-called Dickey Amendment.

Named for former U.S. House Rep. Jay Dickey, an Arkansas Republican who originally backed the measure in 1996 while President Bill Clinton was in office. The amendment stripped the CDC of $2.6 million it had been using on its gun violence research and has been a contentious matter ever since. While Dems and gun control advocates have repeatedly tried to scrap the practice and push forward with funding, 2A groups have simply pointed out there is nothing in the Dickey Amendment preventing CDC from doing research, only in engaging in anti-gun advocacy.  
Importantly, neither of the bills introduced this week contains language similar to the past Dickey amendments.

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