Our government has agreed on a spending budget to support gun violence research for the first time in over 20 years.
The agreed-upon sum of $25 million will be evenly split between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Reception Among Experts
The last time Congress passed a funding bill for gun violence research was to the tune of $50 million. In the words of Dr. Mark Rosenberg, who ran CDC projects in the 1990s, the $25 million now allocated is “absolutely not” enough. Still, he simultaneously calls it “a gesture of historic proportions” and “the most meaningful step that federal lawmakers have taken to addressing gun violence as a public health emergency.”
Ted Alcorn, an associate at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, is also concerned about the lack of gun violence research. According to a publication that he authored in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Internal Medicine in 2017, research on this topic fell by 64% since the Dickey Amendment was passed in 1996. Alcorn shared his thoughts and concerns about the lack of research.
“For too long researchers have learned to assume that the CDC does not support gun violence research. They need an affirmative push from Congress to say not only you can, but you shall support this kind of work.”
The Dickey Amendment
Ever since the Dickey Amendment was passed, federally funded research that would “advocate or promote gun control” was forbidden. Gun research in its entirety wasn’t outlawed, but the precedent was set: whoever took up the mantle of gun violence research had to tread carefully if they wanted federal funding.
Organizations like the CDC and NIH have had to make do with what they previously received or turn to other sources. For example, $9.8 million was granted towards researching this issue by the National Collaborative on Gun Violence Research. Still, this is not nearly enough and, as a result of the Dickey Amendment, research on the subject largely halted.
A Renewed Interest
However, times have changed a great deal over the past two decades.
While anti-gun and pro-gun Americans clash in ideologies, researchers like Roseberg and Alcorn believe that too much time and energy has been spent “fighting each other than fighting the problem.”
“Year after year Congress has been basically maintained[sic] this ban out of this kind of faulty idea that gun violence research has somehow partisan and so as a result it is one of the most understudied causes of death in the United States and it’s just really fantastic to see some movement from Congress.”
-Jonathan Metzl, professor and director of Center for Medicine, Health and Society at Vanderbilt University
Researchers are excited to study gun violence once again with this new allocation of financial resources. We’ll keep you posted on any major findings they uncover.
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