In an attempt to take out another notch from the political weapon of the National Rifle Rifle Association (NRA), Reps. David E. Price (D-NC) led 110 Democratic colleagues in urging House leadership to end the longstanding de facto ban on federal funding for gun violence research. The gun rights control groups are not happy, according to a gun rights website in an article published on Thursday. The ban on research, according to Rep. Price in a press release, has resulted in “Very limited academic research into the causes of gun violence and its impact on public health, weakening efforts to make our communities safer and to implement bipartisan gun reforms.”
“If Republican leadership is unwilling to consider reasonable, common-sense reforms to stem the tragic tide of gun violence, let us at least lift this ill-advised ban,” said Rep. Price. “Congress must have access to gun violence research to fully understand the extent of gun violence, its causes, and possible policy solutions. The funding ban is tantamount to plugging our ears and pretending there isn’t a problem as 32,000 Americans die each year unnecessarily.”
Another “common sense” gun advocate and a member of Congress that defeated the NRA in a special election in 2013, Congresswoman Robin Kelly (D-IL), weighed in on the letter and the research ban. “America has suffered the tragedies of mass shootings, urban violence, and firearm suicides for far too long,” said Rep. Kelly. “Congress has a responsibility to the American people to pass meaningful legislation to combat gun violence. In order to do so, we need the best data available on the impact gun violence has on our communities, our nation’s public health, and on our economic future. The Dickey Amendments have denied crucial gun violence prevention research. Lifting the ban on federal gun violence research is a crucial first step to putting an end to this senseless violence.”
Other Democrats signing the letter also issued statements. “Scientists and other researchers conduct evidence-based studies into car crashes, prescription drug usage, smoking and all sorts of other accidents and injuries,” said Rosa DeLauro (D-CT). “But for years, this type of federal inquiry on firearms has been effectively banned for ideological reasons. We should be conducting more examinations into how to prevent these injuries and save lives, not hiding from the truth. Congress should be doing everything possible to enhance public health, not intimidating researchers. We must end the prohibition on federal gun violence research.”
“It’s time to end mindless, ideological roadblocks and begin researching causes and prevention strategies related to gun violence in the United States,” said Nita Lowey (D-NY). “That’s why I’m calling on House Leadership to reject the abusive prohibition on basic research on gun violence. As Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee, I will continue working to advance this commonsense step to improve public health and safety.”
“Our nation is facing an epidemic of gun violence. And for many of the residents in my hometown of Chicago, gun violence is not just a headline – gun violence is an everyday reality,” said Mike Quigley (D-IL). “These restrictions cut off the debate on guns and resign our country to the status quo. Conducting unbiased, comprehensive research to better understand the epidemic of gun violence is necessary to ensure the safety of the American people. We have to be able to talk openly about gun violence to effectively address public safety issues and keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of dangerous people.”
The ban on gun violence research was first implemented in 1996 at the urging of Former Rep. Jay Dickey (R-AR). Dickey has since reversed his stance on the legislation, arguing that “[i]f we had somehow gotten the research going, we could have somehow found a solution to the gun violence without there being any restrictions on the Second Amendment.” Democrats in the House Appropriations Committee offered an amendment this year to end the ban, but the measure was rejected largely along party lines.
A copy of the letter can also be accessed here.