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Here+#039;s What Could Happen If We Actually Funded Gun Violence Research Here's What Could Happen If We Actually Funded Gun Violence Research

- (Huffington) - 2 years, 4 months ago...

It seems that not a week passes without a new report of a mass shooting in the United States. The gun epidemic, long simmering, has in the past few weeks seemed to reach a new phase in the public discourse. The shootings in San Bernardino, California occasioned a nearly unprecedented front-page editorial in The New York Times, the country’s “paper of record,” together with comments, once again, from the president, urging congress to act on regulating firearms and firearm violence. The top-level data on the problem are at this point familiar. There are about 32,000 gun deaths a year in the United States, approximately the same number as deaths from motor vehicle accidents. The number of firearm deaths has been stable essentially since 2000. There are another 180,000 or so people injured by firearms annually in the country. These numbers far outstrip the consequences of firearms among our peer high-income countries, with stricter gun regulations. What ails us? Why do we continue to accept these consequences of firearms when other countries do not? The discussions in the public space over the past several weeks have illuminated some of these challenges, including a gun culture that is fueled by historical concern with individual rights to gun ownership, and an effective pro-gun lobby that aggressively penalizes legislators who aim to introduce basic gun control regulations. I would suggest that one more factor that has held us back on this front is the relatively limited data we have available about firearms and firearm violence. We don’t have enough data on gun violence For example, there exists no national registry of victims of firearm violence, comparable to the registry we have to follow victims of the September 11 2001 terrorist attacks, or to any number of other large-scale health threats. Our understanding of the consequences of gun violence is essentially limited to statistics on firearm deaths and injuries. That’s it. While gun violence is a public health problem, it is not studied the same way other public health problems are. That is because our national health organizations, principally the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), have avoided firearm-related research for almost 20 years. Why doesn’t the federal government fund firearms research? The roots of this challenge go back to 1996. Spurred by a 1993 article published in the New England Journal of Medicine about gun ownership as a risk factor for homicide, the National Rife Association suggested that the agency was advocating for gun control. Because the CDC funded the research, the NRA pushed Congress, in a 1996 omnibus bill, to state: none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control. The CDC broadly interpreted this as a bar on firearms research, with other federal funders...

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