In 2015, Congress quietly extended a ban on gun violence research following the church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina. Lifting the ban would have allowed the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to move forward in studying the underlying causes of gun violence. There is no lack of evidence that this study was blocked by the influence of NRA lobbyists. In 2012, President Obama lifted the ban, and ordered the CDC to “get back to work research gun violence in America”. Yet, the CDC did not jump to conduct research, as if someone (or some group) was keeping them from doing so. As the mass shootings continued to claim lives – of adults and children – the blocking of research into gun violence by the NRA is becoming a conflict of interest with the very American people that the gun-advocacy group claim to want to protect.
America has a long history of blocking research on gun control and gun violence. This has lead to studies done on violence by the CDC that strongly omit the mention of statistics directly related to gun violence. As the protests calling for tighter gun control grow in volume, this omission becomes evidence of just how much pro-gun propaganda controls the information that we receive – alarming when this information is connected to the safety of children.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) has built their philosophy around telling people that owning a gun will keep your family safe. To the NRA, gun ownership is the key to protecting the lives of people you love. A study in 1993 by the CDC changed all that when it found that owning a gun actually increased the chance of death within the home. Panicked, the NRA jumped to lobby for the passing of the Dickey Amendment. The Dickey Amendment, passed in 1996, stopped the research into gun violence by slashing the budget the CDC spent on this type of research.
For decades, the Dickey Amendment kept the truth about gun violence from gaining any research-based traction. Instead, people watched as news story after news story reported on the deaths that guns were causing – from domestic murders to massive school shootings.
The absence of research from the CDC on gun violence has again become a popular focus of interest. The mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School and the March for Our Lives movement has caused many to point out that the Dickey Amendment doesn’t actually ban the CDC from conducting research on the causes and results of gun violence, only that the CDC cannot advocate for gun control.
This realization about the specifics of the decades-old Dickey Amendment begs the question: What is the NRA so afraid of? Common sense will tell you that the NRA is afraid the research into gun violence will speak for itself – that it is, in fact, the gun that kills people.