Gun Research Limited by NRA

back-fGun Research Limited by NRA Sympathetic Legislators

From the New York Times:

The amount of money available today for studying the impact of firearms is a fraction of what it was in the mid-1990s, and the number of scientists toiling in the field has dwindled to just a handful as a result, researchers say.

The dearth of money can be traced in large measure to a clash between public health scientists and the N.R.A. in the mid-1990s. At the time, Dr. Rosenberg and others at the C.D.C. were becoming increasingly assertive about the importance of studying gun-related injuries and deaths as a public health phenomenon, financing studies that found, for example, having a gun in the house, rather than conferring protection, significantly increased the risk of homicide by a family member or intimate acquaintance.

Alarmed, the N.R.A. and its allies on Capitol Hill fought back. The injury center was guilty of “putting out papers that were really political opinion masquerading as medical science,” said Mr. Cox, who also worked on this issue for the N.R.A. more than a decade ago.

Initially, pro-gun lawmakers sought to eliminate the injury center completely, arguing that its work was “redundant” and reflected a political agenda. When that failed, they turned to the appropriations process. In 1996, Representative Jay Dickey, Republican of Arkansas, succeeded in pushing through an amendment that stripped $2.6 million from the disease control centers’ budget, the very amount it had spent on firearms-related research the year before.

One of the ways industry protects itself is by destroying or limiting research. The gun industry uses its political clout to make sure that evidence that it might find offensive is never done. This is very similar to using the government to eliminate competition or gain subsidies. Are any of these ethical? It depends on the circumstances. All over the world, trains (public transportation) are subsidized because of the many benefits they provide to society. And I could go on. But it seems unlikely that the kind of research that this legislation killed was inaccurate or unfair.

At a time when we need accurate information about the effects of guns in our society, one of the chief players in the controversy has worked hard to take facts off of the table. Gun research is a legitimate field of inquiry by the CDC. It is a public health crisis. It will continue to be.

James Pilant

Some fascinating quotes from around the web –

This is from the web site, Fundamentally Connie! (This is a very fine article and I strongly recommend it.)

Only modestly mentioned in weekend media coverage is attention to the effect of a tragedy such as this upon emergency responders. This is PTSD at its worst. I am a teacher; a researcher by choice; a parent, grandparent, a spouse, and with enough experience to clearly envision the horror they came upon; the classroom scene, the aftermath of devastation suffered by those whose call was answered. Few have mentioned the unimaginable job of the veteran Medical Examiner, working through the long and difficult night to categorize, identify, and document the extent of catastrophic bullet wounds suffered by tiny, innocent sons and daughters, grandchildren, parents, brothers and sisters; playmates silenced forever and removed quietly; …”attired in cute children’s clothing”, he noted, when asked.

From digiphile

My Facebook feed is full of people offering prayers, voicing anger and frustration, and, happily sharing pictures of their own children. One of my friends announced the birth of his first child. Amidst grieving, new life and joy.

As the reality of this tragedy settles in, this moment may still be too raw to decide exactly what the way forward should be. In the wake of dozens of mass shootings in the past several years, there’s more interest in doing something to prevent them.

What, exactly, we should do to prevent more mass killings should be up for debate, but losing 18 children like this is unbearable. What science says about gun control and killings is not clear, though the literature should inform the debate.

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