Federally Funded Mass Shooting Research
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Our hearts are with you Parkland, FL. And Newton, Littleton, Roswell, Rancho Tehama, Las Vegas, Miami and the countless other cities which have been devastated by mass shootings.
When are the rest of us going to stop pretending this doesn't affect us all?
Mass shooters do not just terrorize the school campus or movie theater where they shoot their bullets. They terrorize the nation. These mass murders destroy families and break the spirits of communities. But, admit it. Though this may not have happened where you live, you wonder when it will. Parents afraid to send their children to school, children afraid to go. Teachers who rethink teaching because educating youth may not be worth their lives.
There is a problem to be sure. But what is it? Is it guns? Is it mental health? Maybe. Maybe not. Is it the lack of paid family leave that would allow parents to bond with their children when they are young or take time off to be with them when they sense something is wrong? Is it an economy that requires parents to work so much that they are not home enough to be able to supervise their children? Is it a sense of entitlement? Or maybe a lack of awareness of the warning signs that we (and our children) should be reporting? Maybe the problem is that law enforcement's hands are tied until there is an actual incident and we have no way to prevent these situations before they happen, even if we worry that someone we know has this potential.
The truth is, I do not know. And neither do you. More importantly, nobody does. Since Congress enacted a provision in 1997 that bars the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from doing any research that would "advocate or promote gun control," research in this area has been minimal. Researchers have been dissuaded from pursuing the questions to which we all want answers. How can we solve a problem when we don't know what the problem is? According to a research letter published in JAMA (Stark and Shah, 2017), "Compared with other leading causes of death, gun violence was associated with less funding and fewer publications than predicted based on mortality rate... In relation to mortality rates, gun violence research was the least-researched cause of death and the second-least funded cause of death after falls." NPR quoted former House Speaker John Boehner as saying, "The CDC is there to look at diseases that need to be dealt with to protect the public health. I'm sorry but a gun is not a disease." Maybe. Maybe not. But this is a public health issue. Lest you doubt that, here are some facts:
- There were 427 mass shootings in the US in 2017 alone. (massshootingtracker.org)
- Since 2000, there have been 263 gun-related deaths on school campuses in the US and many more gun-related injuries. (Wikipedia)
- In 2015, there were 36,252 US deaths by firearms, compared to 36,161 deaths by motor vehicle crash and 5 deaths by terrorism that same year. (JAMA, Nov. 2017).
Research on motor vehicle deaths led to safety belts, air bags and booster seats. Research on SIDS let to the Back To Sleep campaign. Research doesn't sit on a shelf, it saves lives! So why are we keeping our kids in car seats longer and putting them to sleep on their backs, just so we can send them to school to get murdered? Our children deserve for us to put more effort into figuring this out. It is time for us to demand that Speaker Paul Ryan and the House of Representatives consider mass murder the public health issue that it is. #SpeakerforTruth
We want to see the provisions that restrict the CDC from studying this crisis removed and, furthermore, we want to see funding for this type of research addressed specifically in upcoming long-term budget negotiations.
Please post a link of this petition to your social media accounts with the hashtag: #speakerfortruth
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