2014-05-28 / Features

Maloney Urges New Approach To Gun Violence Research

BY JOHN TOSCANO


“In the past 20 years, even as our population has grown, car fatalities have decreased by 36 percent because our cars and highways are safer as a result of research conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration...” “In the past 20 years, even as our population has grown, car fatalities have decreased by 36 percent because our cars and highways are safer as a result of research conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration...” Declaring it’s time for new avenues to probe gun violence, Congressmember Carolyn Maloney has introduced legislation to fund public health research to “understand this crisis”.

Maloney (D–Queens/Manhattan/Brooklyn) reasoned, “In the past 20 years, even as our population has grown, car fatalities have decreased by 36 percent because our cars and highways are safer as a result of research conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“Now,” she continued, “U.S. Senator Edward Markey and I want to apply the same strategy to gun violence. Leading researchers have laid out an agenda for study, and now it is up to Congress to put aside partisanship and fund this important initiative to make our communities safer.”

Maloney and Markey (D–Mass) introduced bicameral legislation to fund the public health research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on gun violence prevention and firearms safety.

Markey said, “It is time we studied the issue of gun violence like the public health crisis it is. If we want to prevent injury and deaths from guns, we need to know what can be done to prevent it. No one should be afraid of more non-partisan scientific research of this issue—not Democrats, not Republicans, and not the NRA.”

Markey thanked Maloney for her leadership on the issue and said he looks forward “To working with my colleagues to fund this critical research priority and pass this legislation to help keep Massachusetts and all of our country safe from senseless gun violence.”

Maloney said their legislation calls for $10 million each year, for six years, beginning in Fiscal Year 2015. She said President Obama included $10 million in his budget proposal released in March after lifting the 17-year ban on federal gun violence research in 2013.

Since the mid-1990s, Maloney said, federal funding for gun violence research had almost halted entirely in response to pressure from the progun lobby. As a result, she continued, policymakers, doctors, counselors and others lack comprehensive, scientific information about the causes and characteristics of gun violence or the best strategies to prevent future tragedies.

Among the many groups supporting the legislation, Captain Mark Kelly, co-founder of Americans for Responsible Solutions stated, “There is no doubt that gun violence is a fullblown public health crisis, and that the only way to solve a problem is to understand it. That’s why it is essential that we begin to understand the full scope of the problem of gun violence in our country, from its causes to its costs.

“For too long, the misguided limitation of research into gun violence by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health has left us in the dark about its causes and full toll, and what can be done to prevent gun violence while respecting the rights of responsible gun owners. Gaby [Gabrielle Giffords] and I applaud Senator Markey and Congressmember Maloney for urging direct federal investment into research of the causes of gun violence.”

In 2012, the CDC devoted just $100,000 to gun violence research, yet according to the Department of Justice, guns are involved in 70 percent of homicides, and kill or injure tens of thousands each year including one child every 34 minutes. Last year, over 100 leading public health researchers sent a letter to Vice President Biden’s Commission on Gun Violence urging investment in scientific research to address the meager funding for basic research on gun violence.”

Ardis Dee Hoven, MD, president of the American Medical Association said in support of the legislation, “Behind motor vehicle injuries, firearm injuries are the second leading cause of injury and mortality in the United States. That’s why the policy of the American Medical Association is to support increased funding for research into the epidemiology of risks related to gun violence.”

Kristen Rand, legislative director of the Violence Policy Center, said in support of the legislation, “More people died from gun violence than died from motor vehicle crashes in 12 states in 2010, despite the fact that 90 percent of Americans own a car and only 34 percent of households have a gun. Public health interventions built on a solid foundation of research and data have resulted in huge declines in motor vehicle deaths over the last few decades. We can make the same progress with firearm related death if we act now…”

The legislation is also endorsed by the Brady Campaign, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence, among others.

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