The mass shootings in Tucson, Aurora, and Sandy Hook have provoked some serious reflection on what we can do as a country to curb gun violence. My wife and I--like many millions of others--have been disturbed to watch as these shootings become a frequent occurrence. One of the factors that may be inhibiting a true understanding of the causes of these horrible crimes is a 1996 ban on funding for research by the Centers for Disease Control that would result in promoting or advocating gun control. The 1996 amendment simply states 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.” And the original author of the amendment, Jay Dickey,even supports its repeal.
To call attention to this issue, my wife and I have created a petition on the White House petitions page. The petition simply calls for the ban preventing the CDC from doing research on the causes of gun violence to be lifted:
As a result of NRA lobbying, politicians passed a 1996 appropriations bill that was amended to include a stipulation 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 restriction against funding for research on gun violence remains in place today. The ban on funding has had a chilling effect that has closed off true scientific inquiry and possibly contributed to the epidemic of gun violence.Although this is only a small step toward truly curbing gun violence, we believe it is a vital one, especially given the complexity of the causes of these tragic mass murders. We hope our petition can make some difference in how we make sense of these issues.
The CDC is an organization that provides unbiased, evidence-based research. Therefore, they are best-positioned to provide accurate statistics related to gun crimes. Thus, we petition that the CDC receive funding and be allowed to conduct this vital research.
Update: Rachel Maddow also discussed this issue recently on her show and in her blog.