Whenever there is a debate about gun ownership in the United States, each side asserts its position on the relationship between gun ownership and safety. The pro-gun crowd contends that gun ownership makes homeowners safer and those opposed to unrestricted and unregulated gun ownership argue that increased access to guns is a threat to public health.
It’s a debate played out ad nauseum, but one that has been hampered by a lack of research.It turns out the pro-gun crowd pushed and passed legislation that makes it very difficult to know the truth:
Language was also inserted into the centers’ appropriations bill that remains in place today: “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 prohibition is striking, firearms researchers say, because there are already regulations that bar the use of C.D.C. money for lobbying for or against legislation. No other field of inquiry is singled out in this way.
In the end, researchers said, even though it is murky what exactly is allowed under this provision and what is not, the upshot is clear inside the centers: the agency should tread in this area only at its own peril.
Poorly-worded, budget threatening language that makes it very difficult to determine the public health impacts of gun ownership sounds exactly like something the NRA would promote. Instead of an informed debate about the real impacts of gun ownership, Americans are forced to deal with absurd, unsupported statistical claims that gun ownership increases personal and public health.
The result? A tragic lack of information that has kept the United States from reducing the number of gun deaths in the country:
The tragedy of gun violence is compounded by the fact that the usual methods for addressing a public health and safety threat of this magnitude—collection of basic data, scientific inquiry, policy formation, policy analysis and rigorous evaluation—are, because of politically-motivated constraints, extremely difficult in the area of firearm research…. One consequence is that our current approach of “muddling trough” has led to little long-term progress in addressing this problem: While mortality rates from almost every major cause of death declined dramatically over the past half century, the homicide rate in America today is almost exactly the same as it was in 1950.
The CDC was and would never advocate for gun control. They’re scientists who explore public health. That the politicized, radical NRA would deny them the ability to research the true impact of guns demonstrates what the NRA knows, but will never admit: the unrestricted gun culture they’ve created hurts our health.