Congress tucked a small expenditure into the massive government spending bill that the Senate is expected to pass in the next couple of days. Attached to the bill authorizing spending for the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health is $25 million to study the effects of gun violence on public health.
It’s the first time in two decades that Congress has earmarked funds for that purpose.
The amendment was introduced by gun-control advocate Rep. Rosa DeLauro, whose district includes Newton, Connecticut, where a school shooting resulted in 26 deaths. Rolling Stone:
“The funding for evidence-based research,” DeLauro said in a statement, “will help us better understand the correlation between domestic violence and gun violence, how Americans can more safely store guns, and how we can intervene to reduce suicide by firearms. This is a major step forward,” she added, “to helping reduce the pain and suffering families endure every day due to the scourge of gun violence.”
The appropriation is tiny in the scheme of the $1.4 trillion year-end spending deal. And $25 million in funding is incommensurate to the challenge of addressing one of America’s leading causes of death. In 2017, nearly 40,000 Americans died by gun violence — 60 percent of those by suicide.
No doubt the anti-gun advocates will try to weight the study in favor of recommendations to ban firearms or make it much more difficult for law-abiding citizens to purchase a gun.
There is little argument that having a gun in the house makes it more likely that an individual living there will suffer from some kind of gun violence compared to a house that doesn’t have a gun. That’s what the study found 20 years ago.
But the passage of any government funding at all will mark the end of an ignominious era. In 1993, research funded through the CDC found an association between home gun ownership and murders in the home. The NRA responded to this disclosure with anger, lobbying to defund the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC). When that proved a bridge too far, the gun lobby secured passage in 1996 of federal funding restrictions, known as the Dickey Amendment, that barred government-backed research for “gun control.” The language was ambiguous but created chilling effect [sic] across government, instituting a de facto ban that prevented the nation’s leading health agencies from research into gun violence. A former NCIPC director minced no words in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012 telling reporters: “The scientific community has been terrorized by the NRA.”
What the gun control lobby wants is statistical evidence of a correlation between guns and violence — a head-scratching reason to spend $25 million dollars. Are you more likely to commit suicide with a gun if one is in the house than if one isn’t present? Are you more likely to die of an accidental gunshot if there’s a gun in the house?
Guns are dangerous in the hands of the mentally ill. But suicidal people will almost always find another way to off themselves if no gun is available. And not institutionalizing people who are a danger to themselves or others is an issue of politics and medicine, not gun control.
Whatever the results of this study, it will be used to advance an anti-gun agenda in Congress. So basically, Congress just handed gun-control lobbyists a $25 million gift, courtesy of the taxpayer.