Doctors’ group calls on Congress to end ban on federally-funded gun violence research

Doctors’ groups urged Congress to overturn long-standing legislation that prohibited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) from conducting gun violence research. The announcement came just hours before yet another horrific shooting in America, this time in San Bernardino, and a week after the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooting.

Physicians allied themselves with Democrats, who have been pushing for the 1996 bill that banned federal gun research to be overturned. Several House Democrats spoke on Capital Hill alongside physician advocates. Both groups of speakers called for research that would further expose America’s “public health” crisis concerning gun violence.

“Gun violence is a public health problem that kills 90 Americans a day,” said Dr Alice Chen, executive director of the physician lobbyist group Doctors for America. “Physicians believe it’s time to lift this effective ban and fund the research needed to save lives. We urge Congress to put patients over politics to help find solutions to our nation’s gun violence crisis.”

Federally funded gun research was banned in 1996 with a passage of a bill backed by the NRA. Democrats attempted to get the bill repealed this June after the Charleston shootings, but the movement failed. Former Speaker of the House John Boehner justified his party’s defense of the bill by saying “a gun is not a disease,” before repeating the old phrase “Guns don’t kill people; People kill people.” When current Speaker Paul Ryan was asked about the bill’s repeal, he did not provide an answer, but instead left the matter to the appropriate House committee.

Democrats have been attempting to get the bill repealed for many years, and efforts increased after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. The Obama administration has constantly framed the issue of gun violence as a national health epidemic. Although the administration requested $10 million dollars for CDC gun research in the last two budgets, the CDC has been unable to actually conduct research with the current ban in place.

“There are experts who are ready and able to conduct research on what can be done to stop it,” said California Democrat Representative MikeThompson. “The problem right now is they’re hamstrung.”

The doctors’ advocacy groups compared gun violence to traffic accidents, both of which kill around 32,000 Americans each year. However, while federal gun violence research is currently banned, the federal government spends $240 million annually on automotive safety research.

Featured image via ThinkProgress

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