Federally funded Gun Research

What could we learn?

In the wake of violence, we learn the names of each unfortunate soul who happened to be in the crosshairs of a killer.

Eulogies also speak to another need, some say: More federally funded research of gun violence.

This call for more research, though, is not new.

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Since the mid-1990s, the federal government has blocked or restricted funding for scientific research into gun violence.

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In 1993, a study funded by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that keeping a gun in the home was associated with a 2.7-fold higher risk of homicide.

The study challenged the belief that possession of a gun increases personal safety in the home.

In response, the NRA lobbied for the elimination of the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention.

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There is some government funding, but it has mostly gone to studies of policing strategies and behavior change, not the most controversial policy questions, including right-to-carry laws.

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In 2012, after the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting where 20 children and six adults were killed, then-President Barack Obama issued an executive order directing federal agencies to study gun violence.

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In June 2013, a research agenda was outlined including:

  • Characteristics of firearm violence
  • Firearm violence prevention
  • Impact of gun safety technology
  • Impact of video games and other media

But nothing came from the outline.

Opponents say any study by the CDC would only serve the purpose of promoting a political agenda.

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Meanwhile, researchers say that gun violence is a public health issue, just like smoking, automobile safety, and obesity, and that current research is just scratching the surface.

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