20 Year Funding Ban on Gun Violence Research

Every so often we stumble upon information capable of stopping us dead in our tracks. It happened this evening – walked in from work to find an emailed link from my husband. A Washington Post article appeared, the headline read –

Hours Before San Bernardino Shooting, Doctors Urged Congress to Lift Funding Ban on Gun Violence Research


WTF? Gun violence research is banned in America? How is this possible? Gun rights activists, supporters and lobbyists produce parades of statistics supporting a decline in violence. Tireless assertions of “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” wait in ambush for gun reform sentiment. Mental health, not guns are to blame – reality of gun rights activism, the truth behind bat shit I scrape off my wall.

A few hours before the San Bernardino mass shooting, advocacy group Doctors for America , American College of Preventative Medicine and the American Academy of Pediatrics handed Congress a petition signed by 2000 doctors. The petition demanded an end to the Dickey Amendment of 1996, a federal law stating in part –

“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.”

To comprehend the scope of this statement, we need to understand driving force and consequences. In 1993 CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention funded a study concluding an increased risk of homicide in homes with firearms. The NRA went ballistic, lobbying government to shut down the National Center for Injury Prevention. Enter Republican Congressman Jay Dickey from Arkansas. Dickey penned a congressional compromise, the Dickey Amendment became law in 1996. Wary of magnitude and influence of an increasingly powerful NRA lobby, gun violence researchers chose abandoning studies over risking loss of federal research funds. ( In 2013 the CDC budget was $6.3 billion, employing 14,000 at city, state and national levels – far too much to risk on pissing off the NRA )

From Huffington Post article linked below –

“Well over half a million people have died by firearms since 1996, when the ban on gun violence research was enacted, according to a HuffPost calculation of data through 2013 from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to its sponsors, the Dickey Amendment was supposed to tamp down funding for what the National Rifle Association and other critics claimed was anti-gun advocacy research by the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention. In effect, it stopped federal gun violence research almost entirely.”

I urge you to read this article – hang on to your trousers when you reach the part re a 2011 New York Times article claiming –

“But there’s also also apparent reluctance on the part of the agency to re-enter the political fray. As the New York Times reported in 2011, the CDC tips off the NRA as a courtesy when any affiliated researchers publish firearm-related studies. And even after President Barack Obama (D) issued an executive order following the Sandy Hook massacre, calling for the CDC to “sponsor research into the causes of gun violence and the ways to prevent it,” the agency still hasn’t returned to studying gun violence.”




8 thoughts on “20 Year Funding Ban on Gun Violence Research

    • I raised the topic on Quora, so far an overwhelming majority of comments resemble this –
      “The problem is the CDC already knew what outcome they wanted when they started the study, and made the data fit. The study wasn’t scientific, it was political. That’s when Congress removed funding for the CDC to further study the issue. However, other agencies are free to continue studying the issue, the FBI probably being the most visible.”
      Or this-
      “There are several other studies with data that is of interest to the debate. The FBI and other crime studies seem to conclude that per capita, gun deaths are on a steady decline…despite the numbers of guns in the U.S. continuing to increase. Hard to say much else about that. If you removed Detroit, Chicago, D.C. and 2 or 3 other large metropolitan areas from there…the U.S. is VERY SAFE from gun violence. SO the CDC is not funded in that way but there is still research ….some of which may be politically motivated in one way, or in the other. But still, despite the news media freaking out ( and with good reason ) over mass shootings and the black on black gang related Chicago murder trend, you are HIGHLY unlikely to be a victim of gun violence in the U.S. ”
      Translation – Americans completely unwilling to grasp the hypocrisy, truth, relevance or point. Dismaying indeed.

  1. When I first heard this story I had to double check what I was reading — I thought maybe it was a satire piece like you’d find in The Onion — but when I realized it was factual I really lost it.

    Values surely have been turned on their heads

      • Ya know, the thing is, I have no doubt that people were just as corrupt 50, 150, 550 years ago…. but there weren’t the media to report these things. It’s said that “there’s nothing new under the sound” and when it comes to human nature I keep reminding myself that stupidity and corruption are nothing new.
        The rich always want to stay rich, and much of the time they want to prevent others from achieving wealth (and freedom). This is the same thing. And we get to lay a lot of the blame back at the feet of the NRA who don’t want anyone messing with their guns, or their right to sell guns, or people to stop from buying guns. It’s insane.

        Which is why I have mostly given up on the news — I still keep in touch with some news services but I try never to watch TV news, and almost never to listen to RADIO news. At least I can click away from print stories when I’ve had enough.

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