Mass shootings in the United States are on the rise. Before 2011, an average of 200 days separated mass shootings in this country. Since 2011 that number fell to 64.
America is under attack from within. This beautiful country and its occupants are being torn to shreds and ripped apart by mass shooting after mass shooting. It’s a horrific cycle from which escape seems impossible.
Children shot and killed while cowering in their mother’s terrified arms.
The NRA and right-wing Republicans hold this country hostage at the moment, with a stranglehold that feels impossible to break.
The NRA spent decades working towards this very scenario. They spent billions of dollars and thousands of people-hours lobbying to keep as many guns on the street as possible. Gun sales soar after a mass shooting incident, just as donations to the NRA do.
People massacred in the street, at concerts, and at church – all while the NRA lines its pockets and lobbies for even looser laws and more guns.
NONE OF THIS IS EASY TO HEAR
None of these things is easy to hear. No one wants to think about children being shot. It is no longer an option to turn a blind eye, however. Because, dammit, children ARE dying utterly preventable deaths. Someone is lost to gun violence in America every 15 minutes.
More preschoolers are killed each year by gun violence than police officers killed in the line of duty.
This article is part four of a series detailing gun violence in the United States, as well as a hard look at the current climate surrounding the issue in America right now. Part one was an introduction to the topic as well as an overview. Part two detailed the history of the NRA and the Second Amendment, with some shocking news about each. Part three took a hard look at the popular myths that surround mass shooting attacks.
Part four is a hard look at what happened to the research into these attacks. Unsurprisingly, the NRA is directly responsible for the horrifying lack of information on the topic.
NRA STRIPPED RESEARCH FUNDING
We collectively know very little about mass shootings and what causes them. We need answers, and to find solutions, we desperately need research.
In the mid-90s, however, the NRA accused the CDC of lobbying and promoting gun-control. Americans were coming too close to learning the truth. As a result, in 1996 Jay Dickey (R-Ark.) introduced legislation that stripped the agency of $2.6 million, the exact amount budgeted for gun-related research the previous year.
Congress soon restored the money to the CDC budget, but with a caveat. They inserted the “Dickey Amendment” into the appropriations bill for that year. The ammendment specifically stated 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.”
THE DICKEY AMENDMENT
Thanks to Dickey himself, the NRA, and the “Dickey Amendment,” research still has not resumed at the agency. Congress votes and reinstates the protocol every year. Researchers report that when they do dare try to find funding for a study, they have to be precise and stay away from using words like gun and firearm in their proposals because to do so STILL endangers their funding.
“I wish we had started the proper research and kept it going all this time. I have regrets.”
Jay Dickey died in April of this year. His amendment is still in place.
Restrictions written into the law strictly forbid the agency from lobbying in any way. No other CDC program comes under the same scrutiny. So the fact that the NRA even brought those allegations is ludicrous, as laws are on the books already. However, for Congress to then pass the legislation regardless is utterly mind-boggling.
The American Psychological Association’s senior legislative and federal affairs officer, Amalia Corby, told ABC News that:
“Facts are facts. Public health researchers do not have a vested interest in the outcome. Violence prevention researchers are invested in less violence, not fewer guns.”
Mark L. Rosenberg, founding director of CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control says that the CDC successfully managed to make cars safer without banning them. He insists that they can do the same thing with guns.
“We are asking lawmakers to make decisions without data. … [We] need to find things that work to both reduce gun violence and protect gun rights.”
THE CDC IS NOT ALONE
Unfortunately, not many organizations have been able to take up the slack and perform their own studies. An occasional study stems from a university here and there, but even at the state level, gun rights activists and the NRA pushback – and hard.
For example, Florida lawmakers passed the Privacy of Firearms Act, which prevented doctors from discussing firearm safety with their patients.
NPR’s Greg Allen said:
“The Florida law was passed in 2011, and targeted pediatricians who asked parents about firearms in the home. Under its provisions, doctors can be punished with a fine of up to $10,000, and can lose their medical licenses for discussing guns with patients.”
As a result, some doctors sued the state in a case that became known as Docs vs. Glocks. The medical community argued that it was vital they be allowed to ask their patients questions about gun storage as they are crucial to public health. The court agreed.
In a 10-to-1 decision, the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals found the law violated the First Amendment. But not before the horrifying law spent years on the books.
The majority decision read:
“Florida does not have carte blanche to resrtict the speech of doctors and medical professionals on a certain subject without satisfying the demands of heightened scrutiny.”
REGARDLESS OF THE BLOODSHED, THE NRA STIFLES RESEARCH
There is no end in sight to the stranglehold that the NRA and the Right wing have on research into firearm violence and gun safety, even though they know that it is sorely needed. Agencies still beg for funding so scientists and researchers can start to find answers and help both sides of the issue.
Even the National Institute for Health and Human Services (NIH-HS), which received funding to research gun violence after the Sandy Hook massacre, has been unable to renew their work this year since the Trump administration refuses to renew their funding.
Most thinking humans realize that a compromise should be possible here. It was the NRA that started the whole idea that it was all or nothing. They absolutely think that if they give the Federal Government an inch, that will be all she wrote. They genuinely believe that compromise would mean the end of gun ownership and freedom forever.
Unfortunately, that leaves the rest of America stuck in the crossfire. Literally.
In part five an organization by the name of ALEC is discussed. ALEC is a group of people who write laws for corporations. You aren’t going to believe some of the laws that have come out of ALEC, as well as some of the horrifying results of gun violence here in America.
Check out this video for more information about why the government stops gun research:
Featured Image Via YouTube Video.