Giving Compass’ Take:
· Gun violence is a leading cause of death in the U.S. with over 36,000 individuals being killed by gunshots annually. Ramin Skibba writes about the ongoing debate over gun control, the arguments of both sides, and the research many institutions are conducting despite the lack of federal funding.
· Although progress has been made in gun violence research, there is still more to study. How can lawmakers balance Second Amendment rights with scientific data?
· Read more about gun violence research and funding.
February’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., which left 17 dead and 17 more wounded, horrified people across the country, spurring student walkouts and marches in support of stricter gun control laws, including universal, comprehensive background checks and a ban on assault weapons. But gun debates in the United States have proven to be contentious and intractable. Even as thousands rally for new legislation, opponents contend that such measures won’t prevent determined criminals from obtaining a firearm and that responsible gun ownership makes communities safer.
In charting a course forward, it is necessary to move beyond “people’s anecdotal opinions,” says David Hemenway, director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center. He and other researchers are analyzing data and conducting studies with the ultimate goal of informing public policy. It’s a tough task, in part because of a by now well-known piece of legislation called the Dickey Amendment, passed by Congress in 1996 with the support of the National Rifle Association. This amendment prevented the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from using funds “to advocate or promote gun control.” It didn’t ban federally-funded gun research, but the legislation had a chilling effect: from 1996 to 2013, CDC funding in this area dropped by 96 percent.
Against this backdrop, it can be easy to overlook an important fact: Research into gun violence has actually increased in recent years, rising from fewer than 90 annual publications in 2010 to 150 in 2014. Universities, think tanks, private philanthropy —even the state of California — have offered support. And in late April, governors from six northeastern states and Puerto Rico announced plans to launch a research consortium to study the issue. A December 2017 policy article published in the journal Science describes a “surge” of recent scientific publications.
Read the full article about gun violence by Ramin Skibba at National Public Radio.
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