What's stopping the government from studying guns and violence?
In 1996 some conservative members of Congress mounted an effort to eliminate the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control because they believed some researchers were cheerleaders for the anti-gun movement. In the end, they took the $2.6 million this center had spent on gun research the previous year, and earmarked it for brain-injury research. In addition, Congress added language to the CDC appropriation saying “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.”
It’s unclear exactly what sorts of things this phrase prohibits. But no federal employee was willing to risk their career to find out, according to a December Journal of the American Medical Association article. Several years later, Congress made the language applicable to the Department of Health and Human Services, as well.
“Even today, 17 years after this legislative action, the CDC’s website lacks specific links to information about preventing firearm-related violence,” says the article by Arthur Kellermann and Frederick Rivara.
Generally speaking, gun-rights organizations oppose treating firearms as a public-health issue, as opposed to a constitutional right.
What don't we know?