Gun violence is a public health epidemic in America -- but due to pressure from the NRA, our government conducts almost no research attempting to quantify the magnitude of the problem or investigate possible remedies.
As this Salon article explains, the NRA's intimidation has prevented our national public health institute, the CDC -- which has an entire department devoted to injury and violence prevention and control -- from conducting gun safety research for the last 15 years. That's despite the fact that guns kill as many Americans as car crashes do (30 thousand per year!). This is unacceptable and must change immediately.
The NRA has been conducting a war on gun science for the last 20 years. The CDC is afraid to conduct any research on gun violence because gun lobby supporters in Congress will seek revenge by attempting to strip the CDC's funding. It's time for the CDC to stand up to the NRA's bullying tactics and fulfill its pledge to "base all public health decisions on the highest quality scientific data, openly and objectively derived."
Imagine if the government refused to conduct research on car safety (a subject that currently gets over $60 million per year in funding) because they were afraid of incurring the wrath of the auto industry. How ridiculous does that sound? That's the current state of gun science at the CDC.
Public health research on gun safety can't undo the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, but it will certainly help us prevent needless deaths from gun violence in the future.
If you want to read more, here a couple great articles on the subject:
Salon: The NRA's war on gun science
- Public Affairs Specialist, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Director, Centers For Disease Control and Prevention
Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH
Please stop allowing the NRA to dictate your policy and start conducting urgently-needed research into the impact of gun violence on public health in America. According to your own numbers, gun violence is the second-leading cause of non-natural death in our country, killing about 30,000 Americans each year. Your organization's failure to conduct research into this epidemic is both morally indefensible and a violation of your mission statement and your pledge to the American people. I recognize that your ability to study gun control is hampered by the outrageous restrictions of the Dickey clause, but that's no excuse for avoiding the subject of gun violence entirely.
If it wasn't clear to you before now, I hope the recent gun-fueled tragedies in Connecticut, Colorado, and elsewhere have opened your eyes: the CDC has a responsibility to the American people to study gun violence. By not doing so, you're failing in your stated mission to "conduct research to enhance prevention" and "develop and advocate sound public health policies." Worse still, you're breaking your pledge to the American people to "base all public health decisions on the highest quality scientific data, openly and objectively derived."
Despite the CDC's failure in this area, we have ample data to conclude that guns are a serious public health threat in America. It's time for you to contribute to that body of knowledge and help us determine how to confront that threat. It's time to stop letting the NRA bully you into prioritizing politics over science and the safety of the American public.
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