In the New England Journal of Medicine, physician-researchers writing on the topic of gun violence explained that efforts by Congress in 1996 have “sharply reduced support for firearm injury research.” The article,“Silencing the Science on Gun Research,” by Arthur L. Kellermann, MD, MPH, the Paul O’Neill Alcoa Chair in Policy Analysis at the RAND Corporation; and Frederick P. Rivara, MD, MPH, of the Department of Pediatrics, Child Health Institute, at the University of Washington, explains the issue thoroughly. For example, Kellermann and Rivara say the nation might be in a better position to act on the issue of gun violence such as that in Newtown, Conn., earlier this month:
… if medical and public health researchers had continued to study these issues as diligently as some of us did between 1985 and 1997. But in 1996, pro-gun members of Congress mounted an all-out effort to eliminate the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Although they failed to defund the center, the House of Representatives removed $2.6 million from the CDC’s budget—precisely the amount the agency had spent on firearm injury research the previous year. Funding was restored in joint conference committee, but the money was earmarked for traumatic brain injury. The effect was sharply reduced support for firearm injury research.
To ensure that the CDC and its grantees got the message, the following language was added to the final appropriation: “none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control.”