Thursday, House Republicans have proven once again that they care more about their NRA scorecards and less about helping to solve America’s gun violence epidemic.
Two amendments within a health budget bill would have allowed the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to resume research on gun violence, ending the 20-year ban on the practice. House Republicans voted down those provisions during a panel vote.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D- Conn.) said after the House Appropriations Committee vote:
“The fact is, the gun lobby has a lock on this Congress, and they have continued to block this research at every turn. They’ve taken away our ability to protect the public from gun violence.
“I view this in terms of saving lives, and this is a committee that has that ability to do it. It’s common sense to direct the CDC to engage in research.”
In 1996, the NRA challenged CDC research that found having a gun in a home increased the chances of homicide and suicide. The pro-gun rights group then lobbied Congress to stop funding the CDC if they continued researching gun violence, alleging that the group was focused on increasing gun control. As a result, the CDC hasn’t studied gun violence for 20 years due to the “Dickey Amendment” named after the author, former Rep. Jay Dickey (R- Ark.).
Eliminating the ban on research has become a priority for House Democrats after the deadly mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla. The Democrats wish to introduce effective, research-backed gun control laws to curb America’s gun violence issue while preserving the rights of gun owners.
The vote was not recorded, but one Republican is on the record asking the House to reconsider their position on the Dickey Amendment. Rep. Bob Dold (R-Ill.), who is in a competitive race this election cycle, signed a letter from medical groups urging the GOP to allow research on gun violence.
Even Dickey regrets the amendment, saying that science does not endanger the 2nd Amendment, wishing the amendment would be repealed:
“Research could have been continued on gun violence without infringing on the rights of gun owners, in the same fashion that the highway industry continued its research without eliminating the automobile.”
The NRA lobbied for the renewed ban on research after the mass shooting in South Carolina by Dylann Roof, who killed nine people attending a Bible study. Doctors in white coats stormed Capitol Hill urging Congress to reconsider the ban, providing 2,000 signatures from physicians just hours before the mass shooting in San Bernardino, which killed 14 people in December 2015.
This signals that House Republicans won’t be willing to budge even an inch on sensible gun legislation. But that could also signal good news for Democrats in the coming election because the majority of people in America support common-sense gun laws that protect the rights of responsible gun owners. In four studies on guns, Pew Research found that 85 percent of Americans support background checks on private sales and gun shows, 79 percent support laws to prevent the mentally ill from buying guns, 70 percent support a federal database to track gun sales, and 57 percent support a ban on assault-style guns.
Researching gun violence is important. It’s hard to write a prescription for an epidemic when we only have a vague understanding of what the causes, patterns, and intricacies of the epidemic are. Throwing anything we have at an epidemic may be ineffective. But research will help get straight to the root causes of gun violence while preserving rights for people who aren’t part of the problem.
Featured Image via Getty Images/Alex Wong