This was a strange thing to hear the president say Wednesday: “And while year after year, even those who oppose modest gun safety measures have threatened to de-fund scientific or medical research into the causes of gun violence – I will direct the Centers for Disease Control to go ahead and study the best ways to reduce it.”
I didn’t realize that the gun lobby had worked to cut government funding for research into gun violence. That seems odd. That would be like car companies trying to prohibit research on air bags.
Yet, it turns out that in 1997, Congress imposed a moratorium that forbid the CDC to spend any federal money on research that could be used to “advocate or promote gun control.” Because the gun lobby considered these studies propaganda. Even though many gun injuries occur in the families of gun owners – who the gun lobby is supposed to be protecting.
And here’s another weird thing, I found that about the same number of Americans die in traffic accidents as by gunfire every year – a little over 30,000. But the number of traffic deaths has been dropping steadily – even as driving has increased – thanks to a lot of government-sponsored safety research.
There was also a dramatic decrease in gun-related deaths too, between 1994 and 1999, when the Brady Bill imposed a five day waiting period on gun purchases. But in 1999, when the waiting period was replaced with an instant background check, the number started creeping up again.
It would be interesting to find out if there’s a link. But it was during that same period, Congress cut off the funding for gun research. I guess when you don’t want to hear the answer, one solution is to make sure you don’t ask the question.