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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My Welcome to My New Students in Criminal Justice!


I want to welcome you to this class. I always consider these joint endeavors in which both you and I trying to learn something in a complicated and exciting field.


Studying criminal justice is illuminating. It is a difficult field for many reasons. It deals with subjects that may have personally affected us. It deals with injury and death, often with the most unseemly of human actions. It also deals with psychological problems of the most serious and disturbing kind.


Please be aware that much of what you have seen on television is rank nonsense to those educated in the field. On television and often in movies, the law is often interpreted incorrectly, serial killers are portrayed as geniuses moving effortless through the population killing at will, and forensic crime solving is portrayed as well funded and almost always successful in finding the perpetrator. We will learn better.


Criminal justice in America is executed through thousands of law enforcement agencies in a bewildering set of jurisdictions often governed by contradictory and controversial laws. That it works at all is surprising and that is that it has serious problems a given.


You are going to be the future of criminal justice. As professionals, you will advance to become decision and policy makers. The understanding you acquire now may very well change the lives of thousands in the course of your life time.


I salute your willingness to engage in this difficult area of study and a lifetime of service to society at large.


James Pilant

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Andrew and The Ethics Sage Comments on “Web Site Rewrites King’s Life”

Andrew Gates and The Ethics Sage (Steven Mintz) comment on my earlier post, Web Site Rewrites King’s Life.

Neither the King Center or are fully credible historical accounts of his life. I believe both should be taken with a grain of salt.

On one hand, the King Center is much more willing to ignore the negative aspects of Kings life and actions in order to preserve the politically correct illusion that he was some sort of second coming. For instance, it is widely known that King engaged in many extramarital affairs while he was busy with the Civil Rights Movement. There is also much evidence that many of Kings sermons and speeches contained plagiarized material. There is also much debate as to whether he ACTUALLY did the work at Boston University to earn his PhD. There are letters and testimony from some of his professors that suggests or outright states that they gave King high marks in their classes because he was black and it seemed the politically correct thing to do. None of this will be found on The King Centers website.

I would be more willing to cast aside the biography of MLK Jr. on as garbage if it didn’t have a lot of sources to back its facts up.

One the other hand, conclusions and rhetoric found in are FAR from unbiased. It does nothing to highlight the work that King did to lead the Civil Rights Movement.

I think if you take both articles and ignore the obvious bias in both, then you can get more of a full picture of the man and what he did. The King Center will point out his achievements, accomplishments, and the positive aspects of his life. does a good job (in my opinion) of bringing to light the negative characteristics and actions of the man that his PR people didn’t want the public to see.

Andrew’s Second Post one hour later –

Both websites seem to be bias and not fully trustworthy. When you get past the obvious bias of both sites and just take in the facts, I think you get a better overall picture of who MLK Jr. was and what he did.

The King Center does a good job of highlighting his accomplishments and achievements. It also does a good job of giving you the politically correct version of the man that his PR people wanted the public to see. seems to do a decent job of highlighting the character flaws and negative actions that his PR people didn’t want the public to see. Although this sites biography is filled with extreme interpretations and rhetoric. If the biography contained no sources whatsoever, I might be more willing to cast it aside as garbage. This is not the case though.

Like it or not, MLK Jr. did more to bring about equal civil liberties for african americans than any other person. This is definitely worth being remembered. However, he was engaged in extramarital affairs and was a plagiarizer. These are facts, not opinions. He did attend Communist Party meetings. I dont personally hold that against him, but I can appreciate how that would’ve destroyed his reputation back then if it became public knowledge.

A politically correct atmosphere is just as detrimental to the preservation of truth as extreme, ignorant rhetoric.

My response –

You might want to avoid two comments so close together in time. My computer identified it as spam and didn’t post it. I’ve been checking the spam lately, found it and put it up.
Comment as often as you like. I don’t want to discourage you but I don’t always check the spam and I don’t want to lose your comments. Those were about an hour apart, so it’s more than that. Thanks for commenting.
I really don’t have anything to say in response. I did the post because of my interest in a healthy skepticism of web sources and prefer to stay in that area.

Comment from The Ethics Sage –

It is amazing that such a website exists and there is a “community of white nationalists” with the theme: “White Pride, Worldwide.” I believe the proper way to handle sites like these is for teachers to discuss their points of view and refute their hatred. It can be a teachable moment and what better day to expose the lies and bigotry these groups stand for than the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.

My Response –

I really want children taught early one about the need to exercise judgment about the web and sources, but I worry that the need not to offend one group or another might prevent that from happening.

An editorial comment –

I wrote the post purely to talk about the virtue of skepticism when dealing with the Internet. Discussions of Martin Luther King (and I am experienced in these) tend to go toward the FBI and J. Edgar Hoover and then they head straight for a variety of conspiracy theories. I want to talk about using the web.

Now, that does not mean, you can’t discuss those aspects of King’s life you find interesting. If you make a comment on “Web Site Rewrites King’s Life,” I’ll put it up on this post just like I did Andrew’s and The Ethics Sage’s, that is, in full with no editing.

If you wish to criticize me, even harshly, for my unwillingness to join that aspect of the discussion, you may rest assured I will put that up completely as well.

James Pilant