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How Universities Can Arm Us for the Gun Debate

Andrew Hamilton, president of New York University, calls for an end to the "know-nothing approach" toward guns and proposes a resumption of research pertaining to gun violence.

Research has been "slowed to a trickle" principally by the 1996 Dickey Amendment, which outlawed the use of federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) funds “to advocate or promote gun control,” Hamilton writes in an opinion piece for The Washington Post.

"There’s been a Sisyphean quality to mass shootings over the last few years," Hamilton writes. "In their aftermath, we as a nation are united in our sorrow and, seemingly, in our determination to stop the violence.

"Yet the proposals that follow—banning certain weapons, improving background checks, raising the minimum required age to purchase a firearm—all get stalled in crippling debate, with various sides claiming the others’ efforts to be at best ineffective and at worst potentially harmful."

Without empirical data, "We will remain rudderless," Hamilton argues, but with it "We can steer toward effective, informed debate and public policy."

"Science and research cannot dictate political choices, but they can evaluate the proposals and inform the debate," Hamilton said. "And there’s a tremendous value to knowing."

"The CDC estimates about 14,000 lives were saved in 2015 thanks to the seat belt. Wouldn’t we want to be able to quantify the number of children’s lives saved by a research-driven solution to school shootings?"

Read the full article.