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Congress Must End the Ban on Gun Violence Research

Congress Must End the Ban on Gun Violence Research

Let researchers do their jobs. Congress must lift the Dickey Amendment ban on gun research.

Tragedy has again struck our nation. A few short days ago, a madman attacked a crowd of innocent concert-goers, killing at least 59 and wounding over 500 others. It appears that he methodically planned his attack and carried it out mercilessly. My heart aches for all affected.

In the aftermath of attacks like these, the questions we ask are all too familiar. What could drive someone to act this way? How could someone so devalue human life? How could someone feel so much hate? Why them? Why us?

We cannot answer these questions.

Stunned and speechless, many find it easiest to point fingers and assign blame. Bickering amongst ourselves has not nor will it ever allow us to reach evidence-based solutions to combat gun violence. Infighting does not beget any positive societal reform. Regardless of political ideology, race, gender, religious affiliation, we are all vulnerable to such horrific acts. And for each day that we fail to devise a constructive path forward, for each day we fail to act, we fail the American people.

We can change that.

Currently, federal funding for gun violence and gun safety research is severely limited by Congress, due to a standing ban enacted years ago. The Dickey Amendment, passed in 1996, effectively bars the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from funding gun violence research, under the guise that such research advocates for “gun control.” This misguided approach of ideology over science is wrong. Science does not have an agenda, science seeks the truth and it is impossible to seek evidence-based gun violence reforms if we cannot study the issue.

Firearms kill more than 30,000 Americans each year, according to the CDC. The National Center for Health Statistics estimates your odds of dying from a firearm assault is 1 in 370. In comparison, your odds of dying from riding inside a car, van or truck is almost half that at 1 in 536. Perhaps even more disturbing, the American Federation for Suicide Prevention reports that self-inflicted gunshot wounds account for nearly half (49.8 percent) of all American suicides. These numbers require urgent intervention. This is a public health crisis and the more we know about causes, trends, and potential remedies, the stronger basis we will have for effective action.

AAU has asked Congress to lift the prohibition so our nation’s best and brightest can work toward effective gun violence and gun safety intervention. Our request is simple. Let our researchers do their jobs. Absent congressional action, we will remain uninformed and unable to pursue viable solutions.

AAU and its member universities implore Congress to lift the ban on gun violence and gun safety research. We can no longer be forced to sit idly by. Inaction is unconscionable.