The U.S. Gun Violence Research Has just received $25 million in federal funding,media reported, after 20 years of lack of funding in the field. On December 19th, the spending bill passed by the U.S. Congress would allocate half of the money to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the other half to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Both agencies will use the money to fund research on gun violence, which is known to kill tens of thousands of people in the United States each year.
“It means a lot,” said Mark Rosenberg, who has been working on gun violence at the CDC since 1996. For the past 20 years, the government has not sought answers to this terrible public health crisis by using science. The bill is now before President Trump and is expected to be signed on Friday.
Initially, Democrats demanded $50 million, and while they ended up getting only half of that and far less than funding for other public health hazards, experts say it was better than nothing.
In 1996, Congress passed the Dickey Amendment. The amendment states that federal funds must not be used to promote or advocate for gun control programs. Since then, federal research on gun violence from a public health perspective has stalled. But in March 2018, the House spending bill clarified that the Dickey Amendment did not prevent public health research on gun violence.
“The House passed the bipartisan bill because Democrats finally realized that the Dickey Amendment was the key to the bipartisan coalition. If you say the money can’t be used to lobby for guns, that gives Republicans an excuse to support gun control,” Rosenberg said.
Rosenberg said injecting federal funds into gun violence research would help open up more funding. He hoped that the study would be multidisciplinary at the outset and would extend its coverage to institutions such as the Ministry of Justice and the National Institute of Justice.
In Rosenberg’s view, there are four main areas of gun violence that need to be investigated: the scope of the problem, the causes of violence, effective strategies for violence prevention, and the best way to implement them. “The most pressing problem is probably finding a way to work, ” he said. A recent analysis from RAND Corporation found that most gun violence policies have little scientific basis.
But Rosenberg points out that scientific research can’t find a cure for gun violence, but it’s expected to find out which strategies will make a difference on this issue, “like we save lives from motor vehicle deaths.” We’ve come up with ways to have safer cars, safer roads, safer drivers. We have saved thousands of lives through research. “