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Sunday, October 23, 2016

by Lois Beckett, ProPublica.

After the Sandy Hook school shooting, Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) was one of the few congressional Republicans who expressed a willingness to reconsider the need for gun control laws.

“Put guns on the table, also put video games on the table, put mental health on the table,” he said less than a week after the Newtown shootings. He told a local TV station that he wanted to see more research done to understand mass shootings. “Let’s let the data lead rather than our political opinions.”

For nearly 20 years, Congress has pushed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to steer clear of firearms violence research. As chairman of the appropriations subcommittee that traditionally sets CDC funding, Kingston has been in a position to change that. Soon after Sandy Hook, Kingston said he had spoken to the head of the agency. “I think we can find some common ground,” Kingston said.

More than a year later, as Kingston competes in a crowded Republican primary race for a U.S. Senate seat, the congressman is no longer talking about common ground.

In a statement to ProPublica, Kingston said he would oppose a proposal from President Obama for $10 million in CDC gun research funding. “The president’s request to fund propaganda for his gun-grabbing initiatives though the CDC will not be included in the FY2015 appropriations bill,” Kingston said.

Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR), the vice chairman of the subcommittee, also “supports the long-standing prohibition of gun control advocacy or promotion funding,” his spokeswoman said.

CDC’s current funding for gun violence prevention research remains at $0.

As gun violence spiked in the early 1990s, the CDC ramped up its funding of firearms violence research. Then, in 1996, it backed off under pressure from Congress and the National Rifle Association. Funding for firearms injury prevention activities dropped from more than $2.7 million in 1995 to barely $100,000 by 2012, according to CDC figures.

After the Sandy Hook shootings, Obama issued a presidential memorandum “directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.”

Following Obama’s instructions, the authoritative Institute of Medicine put together a report on priorities for research on reducing gun violence. Among the questions that need answers, according to the report: Do background checks — the most popular and prominent gun control policy proposal — actually reduce gun violence? How often do Americans successfully use guns to protect themselves each year? And — a question that Kingston himself had raised repeatedly — what is the relationship between violence in video games and other media and “real-life” violence?

Dr. Mark Rosenberg, who led the CDC’s gun violence research in the 1990s, said that the National Rifle Association and other opponents of funding have often fueled a misconception: that Americans can be for guns or for gun research, but not both.

“The researchers at CDC are committed to two goals: one goal is preventing firearm injuries. The second goal is to preserve the rights of legitimate gun owners. They have been totally misportrayed,” Rosenberg said.

A long list of associations that represent medical professionals — including the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics — signed a letter last year urging Congress to fund gun violence prevention research.

“If all we wanted to do was protect the rights of legitimate gun owners, we wouldn’t pass any legislation, and if we just wanted to reduce firearm injuries and death, we might say, ‘Take all guns out of civilian hands,'” Rosenberg said. “The trick is, we want to do both at the same time, and that requires research.”

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  • Lynda Groom

    Why are these fella’s so afraid? Is there something they don’t want to come out? This is after all just a study. There should be nothing to fear but fear itself.

    • disqus_ivSI3ByGmh

      They are told if they do not oppose programs like this, the NRA will fund a primary candidate against them who is more willing to toe the line. This is because these Congressmen (both Democrat and Republican) are more willing to do what they need to get reelected than to do what is right by the people. All the people do is vote for whoever is their party’s representative. They do not pay for the campaigns that the reps need to run. That is where the NRA, the Koch brothers, George Soros, etc. (see, I can cite both liberal and conservative funders) come in. They buy the campaigns for “access and support.”

      • roguerunners

        So true. We need to fix this PRONTO! It’s time for the people of the United States to take our country back from the grip of the Corporations. Campaign Finance Reform!

    • Gene Simmon

      For me, it certainly isn’t fear. My Biggest problem with this research is the people conducting it. Oh sure, there will be a bipartisan group or a private non-bias team, but really. Is anybody really going to do a study using government money and come up with the truth? I highly doubt it. The finding are going to favor the place where the money comes from. How about getting the blasted feds out of it all together and let each state do their own?

      • Lynda Groom

        There is nothing that is stopping the individual states from doing something along the lines being discussed. Of course would 50 separate reports serve a more useful purpose than one national report?

  • itsfun

    Seems like a majority of these mass shooting are committed by someone that has mental problems. Maybe we should be should be fixing that problem.

    • ps0rjl

      Agreed, but congress has cut funding for mental health initiatives. The Ryan budget cuts it even further.

    • whodatbob

      Neither side wants to fix the mental health problem . Anti gun people do not even admit the problem exist. Admitting to the problem weakens their need to remove guns from the general public. NRA and gun manufacturers need the anti gun group to keep pushing gun control. Without the “they want to take away your guns” scare demand for guns is reduced.

      • RobertCHastings

        I guess you have not even looked into the most recent legislative attempt at gun control through restricting the ability of the mentally unstable to acquire firearms. That’s okay, though, since you and your other righties don’t believe that is a valid point.

      • Allan Richardson

        Not true about “anti-gun” people (most of whom are not really anti-gun but anti-violence) and mental health; every decent person (other than Tea Party politicians; but how decent are they really?) wants mental health assistance available without the stigma of being considered “bad people” for seeking help.

        The current crop of Republican political leaders, who do not deserve the legacy of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Eisenhower, or even Reagan, are not in favor of making even physical health care available to more people, much less mental health care. It seems to me that mental treatment of their voters would be politically dangerous for them. The “they want to take away your guns” scare is a paranoid delusion that wins them votes and makes profits for the gun industry.

    • Sand_Cat

      No chance for that to work if they can buy guns at will.

  • ps0rjl

    The NRA’s director of public affairs, Andrew Arulanandam, and LA Pierre are not really interested in in protecting the rights of gun owners. The majority of the NRA’s funding comes from gun manufacturers. The NRA just uses the members/sheeple to scare congress into voting their way. As for protecting the 2nd Amendment, if La Pierre was such a protector, why did he make sure to keep that student deferment doing Vietnam?

    • danny kimbrel

      The sheeple are the anti-gun morons and the obama voters .

      • George

        morons are people too dumb to use research

      • ps0rjl

        Danny, I am not anti-gun. I have 2 shotguns myself. What I am for is better background checks, banning private ownership of assault types weapons, and banning large ammo clips in excess of 10 rounds. You are right though, I am a liberal and an Obama voter. I am also a Vietnam veteran and a marine. I also know something about automatic weapons and banana clips. I was trained in and carried an M16. I also used a 30 and 50 caliber machine gun.

  • latebloomingrandma

    Research in the 21st century. What a novel idea! NOT!
    Let’ s see–9/11 kills 3000+ people, we spend> $1 trillion.
    Gun violence kills 30-40,000 people per year, we spend $0 for research.
    Don’t need no gubmint reeserch.
    Sorry for the sarcasm; I’m very frustrated.

  • voice_reason

    I guess the Republicans are afraid to find out anything more about lead poisoning

    • Sand_Cat

      Add that to the list.

  • stcroixcarp

    The NRA is a terrorist supporting organization. The deal in fear and intimidation, not truth and solid research.

    • danny kimbrel

      you are so stupid and your post proves it

    • RobertCHastings

      It is NOT a stretch by any means to claim that the NRA at least supports terrorist organizations. The federal government is finally using laws that have been reserved for organized crime to go after some of the more violent street gangs, like those in Chicago who, incidentally, sidestep the Chicago prohibition against possessing handguns by either going OUTSIDE the city to buy them, or buying them from illicit dealers who bring weapons into the city, a situation knowingly contributed to by the major gun manufacturers, not to protect our 2nd Amendment rights, but to sell guns, period. This sounds like terrorism to me and, apparently, to others as well.

  • RobertCHastings

    The Centers for Disease Control is federally mandated to protect the public from health hazards and to investigate (and report on) anything that might cause serious public health issues. This is part of what the CDC was set up to do. It has, in the past, hunted down food-borne illnesses that have sickened thousands and killed dozens, and every epidemic within the borders of the US (and many within the boundaries of our friends and allies) has been researched and ameliorated by the CDC. However, the NRA will NOT allow the CDC to research and disseminate information on the public health dangers of firearms.

  • ThomasBonsell

    I’m getting tired of hearing politicians refer to sensible research or gun-control laws as “gun-grabbing.” There is no gun grabbing under the United States Constitution, which these Republican illiterates apparently have not read.

    The Fifth Amendment clearly says that private property (a firearm is private property) may not be taken except for pubic use and with just compensation. That means the government must have a need for that firearm, such as in the military and it must be paid for.

    If the government were to take your Uzi it would be to arm a GI and you would get the retail price of the gun, which you could take down to the nearest gun dealer and buy a new one. Where’s the problem?

  • CamCubed

    Would it be entirely uncalled for if an unarmed individual were to corner Wayne LaPierre and kick his teeth in? Maybe take his wallet for good measure?

    Just to prove the point that firearms are faaaaaaaaar from the end-all, be-all of self-defense. Anyone who gets the drop on you and has an inkling of real unarmed tactics can tear you apart before you even think about reaching for your concealed weapon. Firearms are only one element of self-defense, and not even the most important one.

    Just seems like certain firearms/2A spokespersons could use a very public humiliation and reality check.

  • Gene Simmon

    It won’t be gun violence research, instead it will be, pay a group what we want them to find.