Citation(s) from the GunPolicy.org literature library
Kellermann, Arthur L. and Frederick P. Rivara. 2013 ‘Silencing the Science on Gun Research.’ Journal of the American Medical Association / JAMA; 309 (6), pp. 549-550. Chicago IL: American Medical Association. 13 February
[I]n 1996, pro-gun members of Congress mounted an all-out effort to eliminate the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Although they failed to defund the center, the House of Representatives removed $2.6 million from the CDC's budget—precisely the amount the agency had spent on firearm injury research the previous year… The effect was sharply reduced support for firearm injury research.
To ensure that the CDC and its grantees got the message, the following language was added to the final appropriation: "none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control." (4)
Precisely what was or was not permitted under the clause was unclear. But no federal employee was willing to risk his or her career or the agency's funding to find out. Extramural support for firearm injury prevention research quickly dried up. Even today, 17 years after this legislative action, the CDC's website lacks specific links to information about preventing firearm-related violence.
When other agencies funded high-quality research, similar action was taken. In 2009, Branas et al (5) published the results of a case-control study that examined whether carrying a gun increases or decreases the risk of firearm assault. In contrast to earlier research, this particular study was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Two years later, Congress extended the restrictive language it had previously applied to the CDC to all Department of Health and Human Services agencies, including the National Institutes of Health. (6)
These are not the only efforts to keep important health information from the public and patients. For example, in 1997, Cummings et al (7) used state-level data from Washington to study the association between purchase of a handgun and the subsequent risk of homicide or suicide. Similar studies could not be conducted today because Washington State's firearm registration files are no longer accessible. (8)…
Injury prevention research can have real and lasting effects. Over the last 20 years, the number of Americans dying in motor vehicle crashes has decreased by 31%.1 Deaths from fires and drowning have been reduced even more, by 38% and 52%, respectively.1 This progress was achieved without banning automobiles, swimming pools, or matches. Instead, it came from translating research findings into effective interventions.
Given the chance, could researchers achieve similar progress with firearm violence? It will not be possible to find out unless Congress rescinds its moratorium on firearm injury prevention research…
The United States has long relied on public health science to improve the safety, health, and lives of its citizens. Perhaps the same straightforward, problem-solving approach that worked well in other circumstances can help the nation meet the challenge of firearm violence. Otherwise, the heartache that the nation and perhaps the world is feeling over the senseless gun violence in Newtown will likely be repeated, again and again.
4) Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Bill. HR 3610, Pub L No. 104-208. http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-104publ208/pdf/PLAW-104publ208.pdf. September 1996. Accessed December 19, 2012
5) Branas CC, Richmond TS, Culhane DP, Ten Have TR, Wiebe DJ. Investigating the link between gun possession and gun assault. Am J Public Health. 2009;99(11):2034-2040
6) Consolidated Appropriations Act 2012, Pub L No. 112-74. http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-112publ74/pdf/PLAW-112publ74.pdf. December 2011. Accessed December 19, 2012
7) Cummings P, Koepsell TD, Grossman DC, Savarino J, Thompson RS. The association between the purchase of a handgun and homicide or suicide. Am J Public Health. 1997;87(6):974-978
8) Wash Rev Code 9.41.129. http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=9.41.129. Accessed December 19, 2012
Last accessed at: