121 members of Congress, led by Representative Mike Quigley (D-Illinois) have come together to call for the removal of controversial language from the House spending bill that has kept the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from studying violence for more than two decades.
In a letter sent to House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi last week, the group of lawmakers asked that Congress allow the government to fund research “that could help prevent gun violence while still protecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners.”
34,000 Americans are killed by guns every year. Whether you blame guns or people, it is an undeniable fact that this is a public health crisis.
— Rep. Don Beyer (@RepDonBeyer) December 13, 2017
As the letter states:
“Every year 34,000 Americans die from gun violence – the highest number in the developed world. In the wake of a seemingly endless string of horrific mass shootings, Americans of diverse backgrounds are joining with scientists and members of the public health community to demand decisive action from their elected leaders to keep our neighborhoods and communities safe.”
Gun violence is the 3rd leading cause of death in the US, but @CDCgov & other federal agencies are banned from studying it. 120 of my colleagues joined me today in a letter urging House leadership to lift this senseless ban. pic.twitter.com/lE6d2pbWvT
— David E. Price (@RepDavidEPrice) December 13, 2017
The letter goes on:
“Although Members of Congress may disagree about how best to respond to the high incidence of gun violence, we should all be able to agree that our response should be informed by sound scientific evidence. That’s why we are asking you to take one simple step to prevent future tragedies by removing the language that creates a chilling effect on federally funded gun violence research.”
The letter is referencing the “Dickey Amendment,” which was passed as part of the spending bill in 1996, and essentially prevents the Center for the Disease Control from studying the effect of gun violence on the American public. Initially the bill, which was written by Representative Jay Dickey, was passed to strip $2.6 million from the CDC and reads, “none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the [CDC] may be used to advocate or promote gun control.
Ever since, the CDC has not conducted any research on gun violence in fear of the conclusions being perceived as advocating gun control.
Yet even Jay Dickey disagreed with the amendment years later, stating, “If we had somehow gotten the research going, we could have somehow found a solution to the gun violence without there being any restrictions on the Second Amendment.” Dickey died earlier this year.