Part of the reason our nation has been unable to respond to the terrifying epidemic of mass shootings and gun violence in general is that very little is known about the phenomenon, whether it’s the warning signs, the motivations of killers or the methodology of murder. Unsurprisingly, the blame for that rests with our Republican politicians and the National Rifle Association. There is almost no recorded scientific data on mass shootings because research on gun violence has been illegal for the past twenty years.
Physicians, scientists, and Democratic lawmakers have all joined together to push for the end to the ban on gun violence research. 2,000 doctors have signed a petition demanding the repeal of this bill that actively contributes to the gun deaths of 89 Americans a day, joined by furious Democratic congressmen who have had enough of turning a blind eye to the daily slaughter of our citizens by their own countrymen.
The Dickey Amendment is one of the worst products of the unholy union between the gun lobby and conservative politicians, a marriage consecrated in the blood of the innocent. When the Center for Disease Control and other scientific institutes began publishing studies in the early 1990s which proved fairly obvious conclusions like “gun ownership drastically heightens the risk of homicide in the home,” the NRA called upon their Republican servants to smother the scientific endeavors.
The Dickey Amendment, passed in 1997 by a Republican-strangled House, mandated that “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.” Twenty years later, firearm proliferation is at it’s highest, there are weekly mass shootings, and yet the ban on gun violence research is still in place.
“Gun violence is among the most difficult public health challenges we face as a country, but because of the deeply misguided ban on research, we know very little about it,” said Rep. David Price (D-NC). “Regardless of where we stand in the debate over gun violence, we should all be able to agree that this debate should be informed by objective data and robust scientific research.” adds Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). “Politicians have put a gag order on public health research for gun violence only to score political points. On public health matters, it’s critical we listen to doctors — not politicians.”
President Obama attempted to order studies into gun violence after the Sandy Hook Massacre, but inevitably Congress has consistently refused to provide any funding for it. We cannot continue to allow these blood-profiteers and ignorant religious zealots to stand in the way of scientific progress any longer – whether it comes to gun violence or climate change research. Replacing the rambunctious fools in the House and the irrational obstructionists in the Senate must be our first priority when the nation goes to vote in November.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.