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Why Won’t The Feds Research Gun Violence? The Dickey Amendment

by Countable | 10.6.17

What’s the story?

The NRA made headlines on Thursday by simply endorsing the idea of the federal government looking into the details of bump stocks, which allow gun owners to alter a semi-automatic weapon to perform like an automatic one. But further gun reforms are unlikely, in part because the federal government has no research to base changes in policy on.

The reason they have no government funded research is the Dickey Amendment.

Why does it matter?

The Dickey Amendment, which was included in an appropriations bill that President Bill Clinton signed in 1997, and was strongly backed by the National Rifle Association (NRA), dictated that no money given to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for "injury prevention" could be used for to “advocate or promote gun control.”

Research into gun violence is not explicitly prohibited, but Center staff felt that it was strongly implied, especially because the amendment was accompanied by a $2.6 million budget cut.

According to ABC News, since that time CDC policy has stated that, "the agency "interprets" the language as a prohibition on using CDC funds to research gun issues that would be used in legislative arguments "intended to restrict or control the purchase or use of firearms.""

The Amendment is named for former Rep. Jay Dickey (R-AR), who had strong support during his time in Congress from the NRA. Even so, he posted an op-ed in the Washington Post following a 2012 mass shooting at an Aurora, CO movie theater in which he advocated for government research into gun violence:

"scientific research should be conducted into preventing firearm injuries and that ways to prevent firearm deaths can be found without encroaching on the rights of legitimate gun owners.”

A bill currently in front of the Senate would authorize $10 million in annual funding specifically for research into gun violence, reversing the chilling effect of the Dickey Amendment.

What do you think?

Should the federal government authorize funding into gun violence as a necessary precursor to any potential changes in gun control policy?

Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Pixabay / Creative Commons )

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(225)
  • Sofeeuh
    10/06/2017
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    Regardless of which side of the aisle you stand with about gun control, research by the government about gun violence should allowed and supported. No one wants the pattern of mass shootings to continue as it has been and learning more about gun violence through research can help us all. It can open an opportunity for both parties to work together to find a happy medium while having the scientific proof of what works and what doesn’t work.

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  • Devendra
    10/06/2017
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    Allow the CDC to conduct research on gun violence and how to prevent them. Let’s take it one step at a time. First research then solutions.

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  • Chuck.Finley
    10/07/2017
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    Research has been done, the government doesn’t have to do everything. Gun violence decreases as gun ownership increases. Most gun related deaths in the US are suicide, so let’s not let one incident make everyone lose their minds.

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  • Eric
    10/07/2017
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    Only a fool or a fanatic could be against research intended to understand the dynamics of gun violence in this country. The U.S. has the highest rate of gun violence per capita on the planet. Mass shootings are on the rise. There are approximately 300 million guns in circulation in the U.S. Yet NRA, GOP, and their supporters insist 2nd Amendment right is sacrosanct. An absurd position to take. No one (who isn’t a white supremacist, that is), had any problem passing an amendment specifically outlawing slavery. Slave ownership was written into the original Constitution. Where are the Originalists arguing for the purity of the document in that case? Nowhere, because societies evolve and change, and the laws that govern them should reflect the will of the people governed, not the will of people dead now for 240 years.

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  • Shane
    10/07/2017
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    Listen, sick people are going to do sick things. There was another car ran into a crowd of people today, are we going to ban cars now? 9-11 was carried out by planes, are we going to ban planes? Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Saying that guns kill people is like saying that forks make people fat and pencils make people misspell words. Bans on guns will not stop violence, only make it harder to protect yourself from it. If all the democrats feel that banning guns will solve things, then are they willing to give up their security detail if the ban is put in place. Oh, and they won’t be able to carry either. Let’s see how many would agree to that.

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  • S
    10/06/2017
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    What would the CDC and Congress do if cigarette mfgs. required that no money be used toward promoting or advocating disease prevention by eliminating carcinogens? CDC should be free from political influence.

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  • Robert
    10/07/2017
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    Of course solid, scientific research is called for. Gun violence kills over 30,000 Americans yearly, and cripples and injures 80,000 more. Those numbers tower over the numbers harmed by, say, the Zika virus or Ebola, but those threats to public health are studied, and combated, with public funding. Seeking facts and information on which to base public policy is always wiser than hiding from the truth.

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  • Pam
    10/06/2017
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    Americans are horrified by the gun violence in this country and the vast majority want steps taken to curb it. I urge you to repeal the Dickey amendment so that we can put resources toward researching gun violence. We can't reduce gun violence when we don't even understand the underlying causes. Please also repeal the Tiahrt amendment so that we can create a modern, electronic database of gun purchases. Have the courage to finally do the right thing. And quit taking money from the NRA and gun lobby! They should not be dictating our laws!

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  • Jeff
    10/07/2017
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    Guns don’t jump up and commit violence on their own; people do! No sense wasting money on Studies regarding “gun violence” as though these inanimate objects were to blame. How about instead running comprehensive studies as to why PEOPLE commit violence, regardless of the weapon used?

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  • Thomas
    10/07/2017
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    Because the guns are not the problem. Banning or restricting guns to stop gun violence is exactly how we stopped people from using heroine, and that worked didn’t it? My point is that people are the real issue here. Instead of looking into gun violence itself, I think that we really need to look into mental health. Almost all mass shootings (which is the reason for the gun debate, not isolated homicides) have been conducted by someone with some form of mental instability.

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  • Woody
    10/07/2017
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    Research all you want but a truck will never drive itself into a crowd of people, a plane fly into a building, or a gun load itself, get out of the case, pull its trigger and shoot someone

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  • TheConstitution
    10/07/2017
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    So when are we going to ban knives?

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  • John
    10/06/2017
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    Guns are a health issue. More than 90 men, women, and children are killed by firearms every day. This should bee studied. It's inexcusable that you don't take action to see what can be done to protect lives.

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  • Charles
    10/07/2017
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    I’m a card carrying NRA member and I believe Bump Stocks have got to go. However any ban on guns; whatever the type is a no vote....

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  • Tom
    10/06/2017
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    The NRA and criminal gun vioence thrive in an atmosphere of willful ignorance. A " well regulated militia "requires knowledge to establish an orderly deployment of the second amendment. Peace and gun ownership can co-exist

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  • Joseph
    10/07/2017
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    Anyone scared of facts and data has no business making legislative decisions. Let’s use some common sense and research as much as we can. As an American citizen, I demand that my representatives make intelligent, informed decisions - not emotional and/or financially motivated ones.

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  • Lorne
    10/07/2017
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    We need to stiffen penalties for criminals that commit crimes. Plea deals that lock up violent criminals for only months are the root of the problems. Laws like 3 strikes minimum 5 years will help this. Study after study year after year have shown that 10 percent of the people commit 90% of the crime. The revolving door must be shut.

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  • Marianne
    10/06/2017
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    We need comprehensive research into the dangers of gun violence. The safety of our nation is at stake. We must conduct non-biased, evidence-based, peer-reviewed research into these critical issues. Please do not accept any money from the National Rifle Association (NRA). They are actively endangering Americans every day. Thank you.

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  • Bruce
    10/08/2017
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    They need to Research Liberal Violence ??? Fact 90% of mass shootings had been done by Liberal Democrats. something the Democrats will not tell you !!

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  • Alan
    10/07/2017
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    Why not conduct the research...just cut or take the $10M from an existing program...I mean do we really need to worry about colonizing Mars at this moment? Most gun violence is inner city (looking at you Chicago and Mayor Emanuel or however you spell it)... accidental shootings... suicide...Also, make sure to include the "defensive use of guns," or DUGs which end up saving lives...Peace and God's Blessings to all... Sincerely...an owner of 3 guns...

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