The wheels of the U.S. government are finally beginning to move into action on gun violence. Twenty-three senators sent Senate Democratic minority leader Harry Reid and Republican majority leader Mitch McConnell a letter demanding the end of the ban on research that would advocate or promote gun control.
The Republican-led Congress banned such research on gun violence by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 1996. The Democrats tried to overturn the ban in July of 2015, but Republicans killed it off in a House subcommittee.
Now, the 22 Democratic and one Independent senators say that the “gun epidemic” motivated them to urge the permanent removal of a rider blocking federal research into gun violence from the annual appropriations bill:
‘One step that we should be able to agree on is to study the problem, in order to understand the causes and characteristics of gun violence and the best strategies to prevent future tragedies.’
‘Yet policymakers, healthcare practitioners, researchers, and others lack comprehensive, scientific information because gun-violence prevention research has ground to a halt.’
While this rider doesn’t literally ban the CDC from research, it pulls all the funds out from under it, thanks to the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) power in the Senate.
Beginning in 1996, the rider [the Dickey Amendment] has been part of the appropriations bill, causing the Congress to move $2.6 million from gun violence research at the CDC to traumatic brain injury research.
Sadly, 75 percent of the Congress members who backed that amendment received $1.6 million compliments of the NRA. Of the 158 members against the amendment, just six received money from the gun lobby.
The senators’ new letter reports the extent of gun violence in this country:
‘In 2015, there were 372 mass shootings in the United States…Congress must take action to address this epidemic of gun violence.’
A study published in the “New England Journal Medicine” in 1993, showed that when people kept guns at home to protect their families, there was a substantial risk of homicide by close acquaintances or family members.
Prominent Texas gun rights advocate, Christy Sheats defended her right to carry semi-automatic weapons:
‘It would be horribly tragic if my ability to protect myself or my family were to be taken away, but that’s exactly what Democrats are determined to do by banning semi-automatic handguns.’
Then on June 25th, Sheats used the guns she claimed she needed to “protect” her family to shoot and kill her 22- and 17-year-old daughters, Madison and Taylor.
The former chief of the Injury Prevention and Control Center in 1996, Mark Rosenberg, is still furious:
“Removing the money from the budget and enacting the Dickey Amendment were the first and second shots across the bow by the NRA.’
‘The third shot is the idea that if you do this research, you’ll be hassled’ by the NRA. ‘The result is that the CDC basically does nothing in gun violence research…this research has been stopped for 20 years.’
The senators who signed the letter are:
Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore, Edward Markey, D-Mass., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Christopher S. Murphy, D-Conn., Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Jack Reed, D-R.I., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Benjamin Cardin, D-Md., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Jeffrey A. Merkley, D-Ore., Robert Menendez, D-N.J., Cory Booker, D-N.J., Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.), Angus King, I-Maine, Christopher Coons, D-Del., Tom Carper, D-Del., Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Tim Kaine, D-Va., Mark Warner, D-Va., and Tom Udall, D-N.M.
To read the entire letter, click this link.
H/T: Daily Kos.