Why The Ban On Gun Violence Research Is A Public Health Issue

Just hours before the mass shooting in San Bernardino on Wednesday, physicians gathered on Capitol Hill to demand an end to the Dickey Amendment restricting federal funding for gun violence research. Members of Doctors for America, the American College of Preventative Medicine, the American Academy of Pediatrics and others presented a petition against the research ban signed by more than 2,000 doctors.

“Gun violence is probably the only thing in this country that kills so many people, injures so many people, that we are not actually doing sufficient research on,” Dr. Alice Chen, the executive director of Doctors for America, told The Huffington Post.

Well over half a million people have died by firearms since 1996, when the ban on gun violence research was enacted, according to a HuffPost calculation of data through 2013 from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to its sponsors, the Dickey Amendment was supposed to tamp down funding for what the National Rifle Association and other critics claimed was anti-gun advocacy research by the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention. In effect, it stopped federal gun violence research almost entirely.

As a practicing internal medicine hospital physician, Chen has seen the horrors of gun violence first-hand, including caring for patients who are decades out from their original injury.

“I remember a patient who was paralyzed from the waist down because of a gunshot wound,” Chen said. “He lives in a nursing facility with a bunch of old people and someone has to help him get in and out of bed every day.”

“He can’t go to the store. He can’t go to the movies. He can’t live his normal life because of something that happened so many years ago,” she added. “We are seeing this every day, in —> Read More