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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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  • Ticktock
    10/06/2017
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    This is one of the ways gun advocates have been able to lie to the public. By not monitoring gun violence they can claim that gun proliferation is not a threat. Congress and the NRA are in on this and have actively barred the CDC from monitoring gun violence. This is part of the Republican agenda. Just like FEMA’s dismal response in Puerto Rico (data was erased from their website that reflected a lackluster response) the Republicans are doing away with agencies that provide data on the effectiveness of our governments response. If there is no public non partisan report the Republicans can claim anything. Just listen to Trump, he claims he’s wonderful but ask those in Puerto Rico just how wonderful he really is. We need to know the truth, we need to know the effect the proliferation of guns is having on our society. Not propaganda, facts.

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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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  • Rohan
    10/07/2017
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    There is more than 50 people a day killed in Chicago by ILLEGAL guns and knives. Restricting guns is taking them away from law abiding gun owners!

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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.

    Like (18)
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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.

    Like (13)
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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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  • Nick
    10/07/2017
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    “Nothing can prevent this” says only nation where this happens... — The Onion. 😲

    Like (8)
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  • Mike
    10/07/2017
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    No need to discuss gun violence. But let’s talk about civility and violence. Take the word gun out of the question.

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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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  • Tom
    10/07/2017
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    I blame the media .. honestly If you ignore all the conspiracy theories and other political bs ... if the school shootings didn’t get all the attention the press gave it maybe there wouldn’t be so many copy cats ? As for me surrendering my guns ?? You’d have better luck getting a bj from a rattlesnake than to take my rights away ... law abiding citizens are the ONLY people that would surrender them... so all the criminals would have a hay day knowing y’all gave your guns away

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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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  • Frank
    10/06/2017
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    Really, you don't know? 💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰from the NRA and gun manufacturers. We have the best government money can buy - believe me.

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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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