Leading Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee today asked Vice President Joe Biden to include a proposal promoting increased research on firearms by the Health and Human Services Department in the package he delivers to the president.
Biden has been holding meetings all week with various stakeholders in the gun-control debate and will deliver recommendations to President Obama for his second-term gun agenda on Tuesday.
“Current law has a chilling effect on the CDC Center for Injury Prevention and Control which compiles and analyzes data in order to help protect people from deaths and injuries both accidental and intentional,” said Labor-Health and Human Services-Education Subcommittee Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Full Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) and Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) in a joint statement.
“The Center, which examines issues such as motor vehicle accidents, prescription drug overdoses and child abuse that leads to initiatives aimed at preventing related deaths and injuries effectively cannot do similar work when it comes to gun-related violence because of this prohibition,” they said. “As a result, U.S. scientists cannot answer the most basic questions about how to prevent firearm injuries.”
Language was first enacted in Fiscal Year 1997 appropriations law preventing the CDC from using funds “in whole or in part, to advocate or promote gun control.” The restriction has been included in the appropriations bills continuously since that time, broadening to cover the whole of HHS in Fiscal Year 2012.
The original author of that language, former Rep. Jay Dickey (R-Ark.), wrote in the Washington Post after the Aurora theater shooting that “it’s vital to understand why we know more and spend so much more on preventing traffic fatalities than on preventing gun violence, even though firearm deaths (31,347 in 2009, the most recent year for which statistics are available) approximate the number of motor vehicle deaths (32,885 in 2010).”
“We conduct evidence-based research into car crashes, drowning, poisoning, child abuse, and all other causes of accidents and injuries,” the congresswomen wrote Biden. “We should be doing the same kind of research in order to determine how best to prevent firearm injuries and save lives. Accordingly, we strongly urge you to include a proposal recommending the end of this appropriations restriction and enhanced research on gun-related violence as part of your Task Force’s upcoming recommendations.”