Four Things You Need to Know about the Gun Violence Debate

~ by Judy Wilhide Brandt, RN, BA, CPC, QCP, RAC-MT, DNS-CT


enoughThe Center for Disease Control (CDC) is prohibited from funding evidence-based research on gun violence that may be construed as gun control.

School shootings are not new.  Gun violence is not new. It is time to act but we must act in a way that leads to real change.  This means, for any public health crisis, evidence-based research. The NRA pushed Congress in 1995 to stop the CDC from spending taxpayer money on research that advocated gun control. Congress then passed the Dickey Amendment in 1996 and cut funding that effectively ended the CDC’s study of gun violence as a public health issue.

The result is that 22 years and more than 600,000 gunshot victims later, the federal government has largely abandoned efforts to learn why people shoot one another, or themselves, and what can be done to prevent gun violence.

The new Omnibus Budget deal is taking a very small, limited step towards letting the CDC study gun violence, but the language in the Dickey amendment isn’t being repealed, so the prohibition of using federal funds to study anything that may be construed as “gun control” is still on the books.  

The NRA is vigorously lobbying to prohibit this type of research.  It is important to know what reasoned citizens are up against. A recent article written by an NRA representative, Chris W. Cox, makes this clear:

(Article redacted) We, along with a majority of Americans, believe that research is important in identifying the root causes of violence. To be clear, Congress did not restrict the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from studying firearms and violence. Instead, it restricted government funding from being used to advocate or promote gun control. In the 1990s, when this restriction was passed, that’s exactly what the CDC was doing — advocating for gun control under the auspices of “research”. The NRA’s position at the time, which has not changed, is that tax dollars should not be used to take sides in a policy debate. One might ask why gun control proponents are pushing to have the restriction eliminated. The answer is simple, and it has nothing to do with funding more research, but the desire to use the legitimacy of the CDC to push a political agenda.  

Anti-gun advocates know that research by government agencies advocating for more gun control would be viewed as credible by the American people, because such agencies are expected to have an objective, unbiased mission. And this is why limiting funding against such policy advocacy is needed. Americans should be able to trust our institutions, especially those conducting research on our behalf.

The NRA fully supports research, both private and public, which examines the root causes of violence in our communities. What we do not support is using tax dollars to promote gun control. The problem is not funding restriction, but researchers who are unable to drop their anti-gun bias long enough to examine this issue objectively.



The bullets

Bullets used for war aim to destroy and explode the contents of a human brain or torso.  Dr. Jeremy Cannon of the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine describes it this way: “The tissue destruction is almost unimaginable. Bones are exploded, soft tissue is absolutely destroyed. The injuries to the chest or abdomen — it’s like a bomb went off.” If a bullet hits an arm or a leg, he said, the limb often hangs at an unnatural angle. Such victims can need a dozen surgeries over months. “Some eventually decide to undergo an amputation if there is severe pain in the limb and it is dysfunctional.”



Common sense gun regulation decreases gun violence.

The largest study ever conducted on the topic has found a clear link between firearm regulation and fewer gun-related deaths around the world. Until recently, studies on gun laws have been limited to just one city or country and have failed to reach consistent conclusions. But in 2016, researchers took a broader view; the team reviewed 130 high-quality studies conducted in 10 countries over the past 60 years. And while they stopped short of saying they’ve conclusively proved that gun restrictions equal fewer deaths, the research provides pretty powerful evidence to suggest this is the case.

After analyzing all of these studies, the researchers arrived at three conclusions:

  1. It usually takes major legislation overhaul – not just one new law – to see significant change.
  2. Restricting access to guns and their purchase is associated with reductions in firearm deaths.
  3. Individual studies need to be better executed and planned in the future to get more convincing results.


 There is evidence that policy changes help to reduce gun violence.

Andrew R. Morral, a senior behavioral scientist at the RAND Corporation, directed a recent study that found moderate evidence that background checks do reduce both firearm suicides and homicides. The report also said there is moderate evidence that stand-your-ground laws, which allow people to use guns to defend themselves without first trying to retreat, may increase the murder rate.

“In many cases, we’ve been having arguments about factual matters for decades,” Mr. Morral said. As an example, he cited laws that seek to prevent children from killing themselves or others with guns.

“The NRA has argued that such laws make it tough for people to defend themselves in a crisis,” Mr. Morral said. “But there’s no research on that. We’ve argued and argued and argued, and we have not invested in the research needed to answer the question: What is the trade-off between childhood deaths and self-defense?’’

What can we do now?

Until 2017 in Virginia, the NRA had rarely been successfully challenged.  The NRA lobbying effort has a death grip on many Republican and Democratic elected officials. The way forward in the gun violence debate is non-partisan action to fund and support evidence-based studies on how to reduce gun violence.  This will require all hands on deck to elect senators and congress people from all parties who will vow to move forward with total repeal of the Dickey Amendment. In Virginia, in 2018, we have clear lines drawn. Tim Kaine is in favor of moving forward on common sense gun laws.  All Republican contenders are not. In the second congressional district, Scott Taylor accepts contributions from the NRA and has vowed to fight any proposal that appears to support gun control. All Democratic contenders oppose NRA-backed efforts to continue the status quo.

How can you help?

Join us and help elect candidates who support common sense gun laws.

Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District Election, 2018:
Primary & General Elections– Democratic Primary Candidates to oppose Scott Taylor

Virginia State Senate, 2018:
Primary & General Elections