Obama: $30 million for gun research

April 11, 2013 at 12:06 AM
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WASHINGTON, April 10 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama proposed $30 million to study the prevention of gun violence in his 2014 U.S. budget.

Obama proposed $10 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study gun violence, and an additional $20 million to expand the National Violent Death Reporting System to all 50 states.

For 17 years, Congress blocked funding for gun violence research. The CDC researched gun violence until the a 1993 study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, suggested keeping a gun in the home was strongly and independently associated with an increased risk of homicide.

The article by Arthur Kellermann and colleagues concluded that rather than offer protection, guns kept in the home were associated with an increase in the risk of homicide by a family member or intimate acquaintance.

After the study, the National Rifle Association campaigned for the elimination of such research and Congress included language in the 1996 Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Bill that none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the CDC could be used to advocate or promote gun control, a report by the American Psychological Association said earlier this year.

The Dickey amendment, named after its author, former U.S. House Rep. Jay Dickey, R-Ark., did not explicitly ban research on gun violence, but the amendment resulted in CDC's funding for firearm injury prevention dropping 96 percent, a report by the Mayors Against Illegal Guns found.

Kellermann, now with the Rand Corp., wrote in an article last December in the Journal of the American Medical Association: "Precisely what was or was not permitted under the clause was unclear. But no federal employee was willing to risk his or her career or the agency's funding to find out. Extramural support for firearm injury prevention research quickly dried up."

Last July, Dickey and Mark Rosenberg, who was the director of the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control from 1994-99 wrote a letter to The Washington Post.

Dickey said he was the NRA's point person in Congress and submitted an amendment to remove $2.6 million from the CDC's budget, the amount the agency's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control had spent on firearms-related research the previous year.

"This amendment, together with a stipulation that "None of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the CDC may be used to advocate or promote gun control," sent a chilling message, the letter said.

"We were on opposite sides of the heated battle 16 years ago, but we are in strong agreement now that 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," Dickey and Rosenberg wrote. "The same evidence-based approach that is saving millions of lives from motor-vehicle crashes, as well as from smoking, cancer and HIV/AIDS, can help reduce the toll of deaths and injuries from gun violence."

Last January, Obama directed the CDC to resume its studies of gun violence via an Executive Order and the budget line provides the $30 million in funding, The Hill reported.

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