Doctors Beg Congress To Fund Firearm Injury Research In The Name Of Doing One Fucking Thing For Gun Reform

On Monday, four new gun measures were turned down in the Senate after last week’s heated filibuster and reignited outrage about American gun laws in the wake of the Orlando shooting at Pulse nightclub. But if mass shootings can’t wake lawmakers up, now doctors are begging Congress to fund firearm injury research. It’s literally the very fucking least Congress could do. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has requested about $10 million to study firearm-related injuries. With the support of the American Medical Association and other doctors’ groups, Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut (who had his hopes and dreams shattered after leading the filibuster last week for the gun rules) says he thinks maybe the Senate could compromise on funding new research.

It’s actually sort of pathetic on a few levels. Senate Dems were asking for some real changes, and now they’re going to have to maybe compromise on funding CDC research. We should all be very ashamed of ourselves for letting this happen, because there is actually a law that says the CDC can’t conduct research that would “advocate or promote gun control” — the Dickey Amendment, sponsored by Representative Jay Dickey of Arkansas in 1996. So any research on firearm injuries has been totally stalled, pushed back, and sugarcoated since then.

So basically, gun law reform is fucked six ways ’til Friday. Right now, the CDC spends about $100,000 a year researching firearm injuries because they aren’t allowed to go, “Hm, that’s a lot of deaths due to guns that could have been prevented,” and make recommendations like they do with everything else because of the Dickey Amendment. The country has essentially allowed the NRA to block science.

Although the Dickey Amendment still applies, the CDC could still do research around firearm related injuries without straight up advocating for gun reform. Many public health advocates, like Michael Siegel, a public health scientist at Boston University, think that even without changing the amendment, the CDC could do a lot more in terms of research.

With fresh data, the Senate might have something to work with when it starts hopelessly debating gun laws. There are 141 medical groups that have written a letter to Congress asking for more funding for the CDC to research firearm injuries. “A central part of preventing future tragedies is through conducting rigorous scientific research as this has been a proven successful approach in reducing deaths due to other injuries,” the letter reads. Uh, yeah.

Research sounds less exciting than an assault weapons ban or something, I hear you. But think about this: every time an NRA member tries to say that guns don’t kill children in homes, remember that there is actually very little research about those death rates because of the Dickey Amendment. Knowledge is power. If we know more about firearm related injuries, we can talk about them with actual data and not just BS conjecture.

It gets to be tricky, only because since there are so many firearm deaths in the United States, they would have to be very careful about the wording of their conclusions and recommendations. But first Congress would have to agree to even fund the research, which might be still be a long way off.

With the backing of medical organizations, and given all the attention on the issues right now, it’s possible that the Senate could “compromise” on giving the CDC some dough for research. That would be a good, if anti-climatic, start.