U.S. House Votes To Fund Gun Violence Research For The First Time In Decades

Jun 19, 2019

The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday voted to approve funding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to research firearm injury and mortality, marking the first time in more than two decades the House has appropriated the agency funds to study gun violence prevention.

House Democrats voted to allot $25 million to the CDC to research gun injuries and deaths in fiscal year 2020, in a victory for gun control activists who have lobbied for gun violence to be studied as a matter of public health. The bill also allocates $25 million to the National Institutes of Health for similar research.

“We have a public health epidemic in America that claims 100 lives every day,” Kris Brown, president of Brady gun violence prevention center, said in a statement. “We have refused to fund lifesaving research that could stem this epidemic. Until now.”

The appropriations package also includes funding for HIV/AIDS research, early childhood development, and climate change provisions. The vote was split largely on party lines in the Democrat-controlled House, passing 226 to 203.

Government health agencies like the CDC have largely declined to research gun violence over the last two decades, thanks in part to legislation often called the Dickey Amendment, which stipulates that none of the funds allocated to the CDC can be used to advocate for gun control. A spending bill passed last year and signed by President Trump made it clear that the CDC has the authority to research the causes of gun violence, but failed to allocate any funding.

While the funding bill’s House passage may be symbolically significant, marking the first time since the mid-1990s Congress has approved spending taxpayer money for the CDC to study gun violence, the relatively low-dollar appropriation is a fairly minor step towards deep research on the subject, said Allen Rostron, a law professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

“In terms of federal funding of research like this, it’s actually not an enormous sum. But considering that it had been nothing for so many years, it’s a pretty significant development,” Rostron said.

“This will still be an extremely underfunded subject of research if you looked at how many people are affected by it.”

The bill will now go to the Senate, where Republicans hold a narrow majority — 51 Republicans to 49 Democrats.

Guns & America is a public media reporting project on the role of guns in American life.


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