It’s Time to Repeal the Ban on Gun Violence Research

The CDC researches the impacts of cars and natural disasters on public health, but legally it can’t look into gun violence. For the last 20 years, federal research into gun violence has been essentially banned by a law known as the Dickey Amendment. As the number of deaths pile up, including those from this week’s San Bernardino shooting, legions are pushing for a repeal.

Ending the ban on federal research into gun violence would be in the best interest of everyone—no matter how they feel about gun control.

Many in the know consider gun violence a public health problem. More than 2,000 physicians from around the country signed a petition Wednesday asking for Congress action on the Dickey Amendment, calling U.S. gun violence an epidemic. They noted guns kill nearly 90 Americans a day, so it’s time to “put patients over politics,” in the words of Executive Director of Doctors for America Alice Chen, and “fund the research needed to save lives.”

Furthermore, at least 32,000 people die from guns a year, according to the CDC, more than those who die because of car accidents. The Atlantic notes that this number is probably higher, but the gun lobby (and the Dickey Amendment) prohibit more in-depth research.

It’s immoral that federal researchers are compelled to look the other way from this crisis.

While the CDC does collect some statistics on gun violence, the Dickey Amendment expressly notes that, “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.” This has largely caused the organization to avoid researching the violence at all out of fear of violation.

This leaves lawmakers with little information to rely on when crafting legislation, as health reporter Alex Zielinski notes. She continues to say that in the meantime, some from the GOP tout addressing mental health as a solution to gun violence—even though less than 3 percent of crimes are perpetrated by someone with a mental illness.

“On public health matters, it’s critical we listen to doctors—not politicians,” adds Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who spoke at the physicians’ event this week. “We cannot let politics get in the way of our response to this epidemic. That’s why it’s essential to remove these obstructive riders and pass my bill to fund public health research on gun violence.”

To be sure, some may argue that lifting the ban on researching gun violence will make people more sympathetic to limiting guns, which seems like encroaching on citizens’ Second Amendment rights. But even former congressman Jay Dickey who spearheaded the bill regrets doing so.

He said the rule over-reached far beyond its original intentions to scare the CDC from looking into gun violence at all, and because of this, some people died preventable deaths. Plus, to those who correctly argue gun violence is down from recent years—and most of these deaths are suicides, not homicides—guns’ high body count nevertheless persists. We can’t ignore that suffering.

Join the legions of physicians, lawmakers and citizens pushing for a end to the Dickey Amendment by contacting your legislators. Too many have died for our country’s leading health care researchers to be forced to look the other way from gun violence.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

101 comments

Ruth R
Ruth R4 months ago

Is the research on this: "What about people who use guns to get the food they eat?
What if they did ban firearms? What if no person had firearms? They still have the second amendment. People still have a right to self-defense.

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Ruth R
Ruth R4 months ago

If all the people were cared about, and communities built all the people up, with after-school programs, and after-work programs -- no persons would be considering using guns.

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Ruth R
Ruth R4 months ago

If the research would help-- then they will pay for it. I cannot. If all the people were cared about, and communities built all the people up, with after-school programs, and after-work programs -- no persons would be considering using guns.

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Ruth R
Ruth R4 months ago

'Furthermore, at least 32,000 people die from guns a year, according to the CDC, more than those who die because of car accidents.' SO HOW CAN WE MAKE DRIVING SAFER?

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Ruth R
Ruth R4 months ago

"...less than 3 percent of crimes are perpetrated by someone with a mental illness."

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Ruth R
Ruth R4 months ago

This is interesting:
"She continues to say that in the meantime, some from the GOP tout addressing mental health as a solution to gun violence—even though less than 3 percent of crimes are perpetrated by someone with a mental illness."

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Ruth R
Ruth R4 months ago

You can stop getting the weapons into the hands of potential abusers. NO to banning the 2nd ammendment.

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Kathryn Irby
Past Member 2 years ago

Gun violence has surpassed "research!" It's long past time to ACT!!

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Will Rogers
Will Rogers2 years ago

Freddie R has convinced me, totally changed my mind on gun research, every single American should be armed, man woman and child and even foetuses should have one put aside for when they are 3 or 4. Only 1 mass shooting a day? C'mon America you can do better than that! Even if there were 10 a day a thousand more lives are saved by guns. Hey! Why aren't all doctors, nurses, cinema ushers, teachers armed? Girl Scouts should be armed. No one is safe, terrorists are waiting for you to sleep so invest in motion sensing remote guns to guard your perimeter. And why not have a gun in every room, or 2 or 3 in a room because it's not just terrorists you have to worry about, there's your government too, I know you worry about them! And of course us English, because you never know! We might want to retake our former colony! Listen to what G. Washington and those guys told you, their ideas are still relevant today, don't let anyone tell you any different! Thank god America arms the world! Imagine what it would be like without them. Terrible!

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