A large part of the reason that no one understands gun violence is that Congress, in 1996, enacted a ban on conducting research on the subject.
Following the Charleston, South Carolina, church shooting last year that left nine people dead, there was an attempt on Capitol Hill to amend the law to allow the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study the relationship between gun ownership and gun violence.
But, acting under the direction of the National Rifle Association, the GOP-controlled House of Representatives Appropriations Committee voted to reject the measure.
They argued that guns are not a disease and therefore the CDC should not receive federal funding to study them.
Physicians, however, disagree. In Chicago on June 14, the American Medical Association adopted the position that gun violence in the United States is “a public health crisis” requiring a comprehensive public health response and solution. The AMA vowed to put its considerable lobbying muscle to work in Congress against the all-powerful NRA.
“With approximately 30,000 men, women and children dying each year at the barrel of a gun in elementary schools, movie theaters, workplaces, houses of worship and on live television, the United States faces a public health crisis of gun violence,” said AMA president Dr. Steven J. Stack in a press statement.
He continued: “Even as America faces a crisis unrivaled in any other developed country, the Congress prohibits the CDC from conducting the very research that would help us … determine how to reduce the high rate of firearm-related deaths and injuries. An epidemiological analysis of gun violence is vital.”