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How the pro-gun Congress continues to ban federal research into gun violence:
The nation might be in a better position to act if medical and public health researchers had continued to study these issues as diligently as some of us did between 1985 and 1997. But in 1996, pro-gun members of Congress mounted an all-out effort to eliminate the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Although they failed to defund the center, the House of Representatives removed $2.6 million from the CDC's budget—precisely the amount the agency had spent on firearm injury research the previous year. Funding was restored in joint conference committee, but the money was earmarked for traumatic brain injury. The effect was sharply reduced support for firearm injury research.

To ensure that the CDC and its grantees got the message, the following language was added to the final appropriation: “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.”

Precisely what was or was not permitted under the clause was unclear. But no federal employee was willing to risk his or her career or the agency's funding to find out. Extramural support for firearm injury prevention research quickly dried up. Even today, 17 years after this legislative action, the CDC's website lacks specific links to information about preventing firearm-related violence.

When other agencies funded high-quality research, similar action was taken. In 2009, Branas et al published the results of a case-control study that examined whether carrying a gun increases or decreases the risk of firearm assault. In contrast to earlier research, this particular study was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Two years later, Congress extended the restrictive language it had previously applied to the CDC to all Department of Health and Human Services agencies, including the National Institutes of Health. [...]

The US military is grappling with an increase in suicides within its ranks. Earlier this month, an article by 2 retired generals—a former chief and a vice chief of staff of the US Army— asked Congress to lift a little-noticed provision in the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act that prevents military commanders and noncommissioned officers from being able to talk to service members about their private weapons, even in cases in which a leader believes that a service member may be suicidal.

While the NRA continues to froth and Congress continues to mumble about how, perhaps, something ought to be done, Americans should keep in mind that no group has done more to prevent research aimed at reducing gun violence than Congress itself. Perhaps it would be an opportune time to have a hearing about that, if our representatives can find the time.



Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2003Republicard: spend like there's no tomorrow:

Introducing the Republicard. First practiced under the record deficit-spending of the Reagan-Bush administrations, and now re-issued under the fiscal wreckage of George Bush with a trifeca of Republican-rule to again spend like theres no tomorrow. Miles, the creator of the card:
Last week I was hearing about a proposal that had been introduced into Congress to honor Ronald Reagan by putting him on the dime coin. Aside from the fact that FDR, creator of the "March of Dimes", certainly deserves to stay on that coin (and Nancy Reagan agrees)... it occurred to me that if someone were to honor George W. Bush, given his enormous deficits, the most appropriate place to do so would be... a credit card. So I imagined what it might look like, and came up with the RepubliCard: (This idea simultaneously occurred to political cartoonist Tom Toles who had a cartoon on this theme appear the very next day).
Molly, the wife of Miles, had the opportunity to hand one of these cards to Governor Dean last week.  And thanks to more production by Miles, you too can hand them out to your friends.


Tweet of the Day:

#FastFact: Three current NRA board members have been involved in accidental gun discharges
@BloombergTV via HootSuite


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