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Dem bills aim to restart gun research

A year after President Obama lifted a federal ban on funding research into firearms, Democrats are hoping to restore funding.
By Gabrielle Levy   |   May 21, 2014 at 1:34 PM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, May 21 (UPI) -- Democrats Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York introduced legislation Wednesday to fund research on the costs and causes of gun violence.

Twin bills introduced simultaneously in the Senate and House would send $10 million in funding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the next six years.

A congressional ban prohibited federal funding of research related to firearms from 1996 to 2013, when President Obama lifted the ban by executive order.

"Last year, President Obama lifted the 17-year ban on gun violence research and now we need to fully fund this critical research," Markey said. "It's time we studied the issue of gun violence like the public health crisis that it is."

Added Maloney: "Because of the pro-gun lobby's gag order on gun violence research, policy makers, doctors, counselors and others lack the comprehensive scientific information about the causes and characteristics of violence and best strategies to prevent future tragedies."

The American Psychological Association, which supports the legislation, said its research found guns were involved in more than 70 percent of homicides in the U.S., and cost $174 billion in 2010 alone.

"This amount does not count the psychological toll of those indirectly affected by firearm violence, such as those who witness or fear firearm violence in their homes or communities," said Clinton Anderson of the APA.

Americans for Responsible Solutions, the group formed by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, Capt. Mark Kelly, the National Physicians Alliance, the Brady Campaign and Mayors Against Illegal Guns have also endorsed the measure.

Maloney said 20 congressmen have already agreed to co-sponsor the House legislation, and an aide to Markey said another five senators had joined his bill, although no Republicans have yet signed on.

Attempts to pass legislation to curb gun violence, including expanded background checks, have been repeatedly blocked by Republicans in Congress.

And while Maloney could not say she was confident this time would be different, she said she had to try.

"You have to do what you think is right," she said. "I do not know of any other areas of public policy in the United States of America where there is literally a ban on research."

"We are making a fundamental mistake if we're not looking at ways to combat innocent deaths in our country," she said.

Follow @gabbilevy and @UPI on Twitter.
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