Doctors, Lawmakers Want Gun Violence Research Funding Ban Lifted
Physician groups on Wednesday lobbied congressional lawmakers to lift a restriction that for nearly 20 years has blocked CDC from conducting research on gun violence, the Washington Post's "To Your Health" reports (Dennis, "To Your Health," Washington Post, 12/2).
An amendment added to a federal appropriations bill in 1966 effectively prohibited CDC from conducting research on gun violence. According to MedPage Today, the ban was eventually extended to also include NIH.
The restriction is included in appropriations bills for HHS and the Department of Labor, which are currently under consideration in Congress (Frieden, MedPage Today, 12/2).
Physicians, Lawmakers Urge Change
Physicians associated with various advocacy groups presented a petition signed by more than 2,000 doctors that calls for Congress to lift the restriction ("To Your Health," Washington Post, 12/2). The groups included:
- The American Medical Students Association;
- The American Medical Women's Association;
- The Committee of Interns and Residents;
- Doctors for America; and
- The National Physicians Alliance (MedPage Today, 12/2).
In addition, physicians and a group of Democratic lawmakers spoke about the need to consider gun violence as a public health epidemic. The group noted that research should be conducted to address the issue just as it is for any other disease.
Rep. David Price (D-N.C.) said, "We should all be able to agree that this debate should be informed by objective data and scientific research" ("To Your Health," Washington Post, 12/2). He called the ban on such research "absurd," adding, "It should be dropped." According to CQ HealthBeat, Price is leading an effort in Congress to life the restriction (Young, CQ HealthBeat, 12/2).
Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Ill.) added that research should be available on the potential relationship between mental health and gun violence. She said, "I for one think we blame mental health too much." Kelly also called for research on U.S. residents' access to firearms.
Doctors for America Executive Director Alice Chen added, "Gun violence claims the lives of 90 Americans every day through unintentional shootings, suicides or homicides," adding, "My physician colleagues and I ... see too many of our patients affected by gun violence." Chen continued, "We need to know: What impacts whether you use a gun for suicide? Which safe storage practices are effective at keeping kids safe? ... We can answer these questions and save lives and still protect the right to bear arms -- the same way (we keep people safe while driving) and still allow people to drive."
Nina Agrawal, a pediatrician who also spoke during the event, said, "In my career, I've seen children's lives saved from measles, (sudden infant death syndrome) and auto accidents. We vaccinate children, put them securely on their backs to sleep and in car seats. It's frustrating that the CDC doesn't have the funding to do [the] same type of research on gun violence" (MedPage Today, 12/2).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.