Ask Congress to support and fund gun violence research

Dear Readers,

I signed a petition on the Action Network to ask Congress to support and fund gun violence research. See petition below.


Join a diverse, nonpartisan, and interdisciplinary group of organizations in adding your name as an advocate to call for Congress to provide dedicated federal funding for research into gun violence. The current restriction on federal funding for gun violence research limits our understanding of this epidemic and prevents us from enacting evidence-based policies that will protect our lives, our families, and our communities. We also ask for Congress to remove restrictions preventing federal agencies from sharing information that could help them better understand – and ultimately prevent – injuries and loss of life.

Three of the deadliest shootings in modern US history have happened in the last six months. These are but three of hundreds of recent mass shootings that have torn apart families and communities.  These acts of violence now happen with such frightening regularity that in some cases they pass almost without recognition, not even registering in the public conscience long enough for us to know the names of the lives lost and communities shattered.

Gun violence is a public health crisis that, on average, takes the lives of 100 people (Bauchner et al., 2018) and injures hundreds (CDC) more in the United States every day.  In order to address gun violence as the public health issue that it truly is, both the public and our elected officials who serve us need to understand what works to prevent gun violence, and this can not be accomplished without credible, scientific research.

Research into the causes and prevention of violence is not a partisan issue.  Yet for more than two decades, Congress has failed to provide dedicated funding for gun violence research, in part because of the Dickey Amendment, a law that states that “None of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) may be used to advocate or promote gun control.” Although the Dickey Amendment does not explicitly prevent research on gun violence, it is widely acknowledged that absent clearer guidance from Congress it has had a devastating effect on violence prevention research at the CDC.  As advocates for science, we demand policies based on scientific evidence, and we ask that Congress immediately repeal the Dickey Amendment and provide dedicated funding for research into the causes and prevention of gun violence.

Without this research, we cannot identify risk and protective factors, nor can we develop prevention strategies.  Gun violence affects all communities, but disproportionately affects marginalized communities, who will continue to suffer the greatest consequences of our inaction. The lack of publicly funded research on gun violence has left us without evidence to guide us in responding to an epidemic that kills tens of thousands of people each year and adversely impacts millions more.

We further ask that the federal government repeal the Tiahrt Amendment, a 2003 provision prohibiting the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives from releasing information about its firearms database to the CDC and the National Institutes of Health.  Researchers need systematic data collection and a national database dedicated to storing and collecting data on gun sales and registrations.  This information must be coupled with a database on firearms injuries and deaths nationwide to monitor and better understand the scope of this national public health problem.  To help accomplish this goal, we ask Congress to provide funding for the CDC National Violent Death Reporting System to support the participation of all 50 states, U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia in reporting gun violence statistics to the national database; currently, 42 states receive funding.  In order to prevent gun violence, we must understand how it affects adults and children in all states, without exception.

Research and policy development on firearm-related injuries and deaths warrant the same level of attention, and dedicated federal and state funding and support, as are currently directed to public health challenges presented by the opioid epidemic, cigarette smoking, and HIV/AIDS. Regardless of political party, every member of Congress must play a role in supporting the research we need to protect our communities and enact evidence-based policy to combat gun violence.

We urge you to honor victims, survivors, and their loved ones by writing and implementing evidence-based policies to protect our communities from gun violence.  We stand together in asking Congress for the support and funding needed to make these policies a reality. Signing this petition will add your name to this open letter calling for action.

References (I’m adding the references within the document and a few that were missing from the original call to action hyperlinked message.)

American Public Health Association. (2016). Fact sheet on preventing gun violence. Retrieved from https://www.apha.org/~/media/files/pdf/factsheets/160317_gunviolencefs.ashx? on February 28, 2018.

Dockrill, P. (2017, September 16). Here’s why gun violence research in the US is about to come to a grinding halt. Retrieved from https://www.sciencealert.com/shelved-obama-gun-research-program-could-terminate-studies-of-firearm-violence?

Bauchner, H., Rivara, F. P., Bonow, R. O., Bressler, N. M., Disis, M. L. N., Heckers, S., … & Rhee, J. S. (2018). Death by gun violence—A public health crisis. JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery, 20, 7-8. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.16446

Beckett, L. (2014, May 15). Why don’t we know how many people are shot each year in America? Retrieved from https://www.propublica.org/article/why-dont-we-know-how-many-people-are-shot-each-year-in-america?

Bieler, S., Kijakazi, K., La Vigne, N., Vinik, N., & Overton, S. (2016). Engaging communities in reducing gun violence. Washington, DC: Urban Institute.

Branas, C. C., Richmond, T. S., Culhane, D. P., Ten Have, T. R., & Wiebe, D. J. (2009). Investigating the link between gun possession and gun assault. American Journal of Public Health, 99, 2034-2040. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2008.143099.

Chapman, S., Alpers, P., & Jones, M. (2016). Association between gun law reforms and intentional firearm deaths in Australia, 1979-2013. Journal of the American Medical Association, 316, 291-299. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.8752

Center for Disease Control (CDC). Leading causes of nonfatal injury reports, 2000-2006. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from https://webappa.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/nfilead.html

Fenway Health. (2016). Gun Violence and LGBT Health. Retrieved from http://fenwayhealth.org/?source=email& on February 28. 2018.

Gani, F., Sakran, J. V., & Canner, J. K. (2017). Emergency Department Visits For Firearm-Related Injuries In The United States, 2006–14. Health Affairs, 36, 1729-1738.

Kellermann, A. L., & Rivara, F. P. (2013). Silencing the science on gun research. Journal of the American Medical Association, 309, 549-550. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.208207

Kellermann, A. L., Rivara, F. P., Rushforth, N. B., Banton, J. G., Reay, D. T., Francisco, J. T., … & Somes, G. (1993). Gun ownership as a risk factor for homicide in the home. New England Journal of Medicine, 329, 1084-1091.

Wellford, C. F., Pepper, J. V., & Petrie, C. V. (2005). Firearms and violence: A critical review. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

Can you join me and take action? Click here: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/12b649467ddaddbdee0b0564502325b49833096c?source=email&

Author: teacherrogers

Content developer, learning designer, trainer, and researcher

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