Seven governors launch effort to study gun violence
Governors from the states of New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Delaware, and Puerto Rico came together in February, 2018 to form the “States for Gun Safety” coalition, and announced Wednesday that they will attempt to bridge the gap in federal research surrounding gun violence, citing frustration with the federal government as their motivating factor.
The federal government’s continued inaction on this issue has not only allowed the epidemic of gun violence to spread, but it has left it to the states to provide the leadership needed to confront this problem head-on,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said in a press release.
“The consortium is a major step in our multi-state partnership to research responsible gun safety legislation and take new steps to prevent illegal guns from crossing state lines.
In 1996, an amendment known as the “Dickey Amendment” inserted as a rider in the omnibus spending bill prohibited the researching of gun violence by the federal government, stating, “None of the funds made available in this title may be used, in whole or in part, to advocate or promote gun control.”
According to Wikipedia, the amendment was lobbied for by the NRA. The amendment is named after its author Jay Dickey, a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives from Arkansas. Many commentators have described this amendment as a “ban” on gun violence research by the CDC.
Once the bill passed, funding evaporated and CDC researchers stopped work on all gun violence-related studies. However, a $1.3 trillion government spending bill passed earlier in 2018 now states that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) indeed can.
“The Secretary of Health and Human Services has stated the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has the authority to conduct research on the causes of gun violence.”
Rep. Stephanie Murphy (Florida) praised her own efforts to have “secure unprecedented language” added to the bill to ensure that the CDC could do the research as planned.
However, Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, believes Murphy is making a mountain out of a molehill.
“I don’t think the new language in the spending bill changes anything,” Webster said. “Nothing in the Dickey Amendment said that CDC could not spend the money appropriated to study the role of guns in their programmatic areas of youth violence, domestic violence and suicide. That there was no new allocation or specification to spend money on gun violence research, makes me pessimistic.”
Either way, only time will tell which directions that one sentence will take gun violence research and what, if any solutions will be presented as a result.