Congress killed gun research at NRA's behest

As critics begin dissecting the Obama administration's ideas on gun control later this week, one refrain is certain to surface:

There is no research connecting problem A, say how many gun-show guns end up in the hands of felons, to solution B, say requiring background checks for gun show sales.

The reason there is so little research on so many of these connections leads to a truly bizarre and little-known bit of congressional craziness.

Before about 1990, research on issues like the connection between mental health and gun violence was at a high point.

The Center for Injury Prevention and Control and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regularly funded research on gun violence.

But the National Rifle Association began to see that government-sponsored research wasn't reaching the conclusions the NRA wanted to hear.

One specific study really aggravated the NRA.

It found that having a gun in a home resulted in greater danger to a family than it provided in actual safety. In other words, guns in the house more often resulted in accidental and intentional family deaths than the protection of the inhabitants.

This was calculated by simply counting up the accidents and deaths and sorting them into various categories.

Those results seemed to provide good gun consumer information but they also ran directly counter to the interests of gun makers and the NRA, which was to convince consumers they needed guns for protection.

The NRA's response to that wasn't to refute the information or do its own research.

No, it decided a better path would be to make sure such research was never done again.

In 1996, all money for the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health for gun research was sliced from their budgets.

To make its intent perfectly clear, Congress ordered that no funds could be used in any research that might be used to "advocate or promote" gun control.

In 2009, the National Institutes of Health crossed the NRA by funding a study that found a person carrying a gun was 4.5 times more likely to be shot in an assault as an unarmed person.

Again, that could be useful information to a person thinking of carrying a gun for safety.

And, again, it contradicted the NRA orthodoxy that we will all be safer when we all carry guns.

In 2011, Congress extended the same ban on government-funded research to the NIH.

So today the CDC still keeps track of how many people are killed (about 31,000 per year in the U.S.) or injured by guns, but it no longer tries to figure out why or what can be done to prevent gun mayhem.

In fact, trend lines show that by 2015 gun deaths will exceed automobile fatalities.

The Washington Post recently reported that even ObamaCare contains a provision prohibiting health care workers from collecting data on guns in homes and using it for research.

We now have a 15-year gap in federally funded research that we could be using to formulate answers to tragedies such as the one in Newtown, Conn.

Think of the way government research has improved the safety of everything from coal mines to airlines.

So, when we talk about the lack of basic research on gun ownership and safety in the upcoming debate, we will have the NRA to thank for that.

The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and the editorial board.

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Steve  Dosh's picture

Congress killed gun research at NRA's behest

Rex, 13.01.17 13:40 hst ?
Great editorial ? Guns do kill people . England and Japan have very strict gun laws . How many people get killed there every year by guns in England ? A: About ? 59 . ref : BBC News - Analysis: UK gun crime figures
Jan 31, 2008 ... According to Home Office figures, there were 59 firearms-related homicides in 2006-07 compared with 49 in the previous year. ...
^^ These are simple facts ^^
Their " Bobbies " don't even carry sidearms
Some things go together naturally , like gun nuts and mental illnesses , guys •
We support the right to arm bears
The British are not coming anymore
Private armies are illegal in the very U S of A , as are mercenaries
Wanna' fight with guns ?
Join the French Foreign Legion
They take anyone
/s Dr. Dosh and ohana hth ?

Steve  Dosh's picture

Mainers , Thursday 13:50 hst

Mainers , Thursday 13:50 hst ?
Let's not fry a microchip about all this , slednecks . Stress is a killer , too . On to a different subject
Happy Birthday Michelle Obama . See you on T V on Monday , you and you rdarling daughters Sasha and Melia . Thanks for your tireless efforts on our behalf to make US and our children eat better and healthier foods • /s , The popular voters *<;-Q~


Here are the SOMETHINGs.

Which of these would prevent another Sandy Hook massacre being planned right now? Not one. But Dear Leader will receive gushing adoration for solving the problem. (Sorry, folks. I couldn't resist a Riml-style copy and paste.)

1. Issue a presidential memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system
2. Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.
3. Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.
4. Direct the attorney general to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.
5. Propose rule-making to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.
6. Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.
7. Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.
8. Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).
9. Issue a presidential memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.
10. Release a Department of Justice report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement.
11. Nominate a new director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
12. Provide law enforcement, first-responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.
13. Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.
14. Issue a presidential memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.
15. Direct the attorney general to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun-safety technologies and challenge the private sector to develop innovative technologies.
16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors from asking their patients about guns in their homes.
17. Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.
18. Provide incentives for schools to hire school-resource officers.
19. Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.
20. Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.
21. Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges.
22. Commit to finalizing mental-health parity regulations.
23. Launch a national dialogue led by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Education Secretary Arne Duncan on mental health.


The solution

I'd like to point out that nos. 13 and 18 are the solutions proposed by the NRA and that the President made it clear that while this was all he had the authority to do, the real solutions rest with the bills he suggested Congress pass.

AL PELLETIER's picture

And your solution, Mike?



A problem

According to the best available statistics I can find, there have been approxmately 900 deaths by shooting in this country since Newtown. Roughly 60% of those were suicides. Many of those were accidental shootings leaving very few as actual assaults or self defense. What we need is for the NRA and responsible gun owners to admit we have a problem. They also need to admit that guns are a significant part of that problem notwithstanding video games, religion, mental health, global warming and every other thing they can blame. Realizing we have a problem, we have to look for reasonable solutions. That means we study the problem and the possible solutions keeping in mind that no solution is likely to be perfect nor to solve everything at once. There is no "magic bullet" ,pardon the pun, in this case. No civilized society, however, can afford to turn its back on a problem of this magnitude.

ERNEST LABBE's picture

So what

So what your trying to say is it wasn't for guns 540 people ( your figures) would not have committed suicide, so far this year. Also using your figures there would have been roughly 18,000 fewer suicides in our country yearly. Don't you imagine most of these people that decided for what ever reason to end their life would have found another way to accomplish their goal. Desperate people do desperate things no matter what others do or say.

Betty Davies's picture

Desperate people and guns

A suicidal person who impulsively swallows a bottle of pills can change his or her mind and call 911. Or they might be found by a friend who calls 911 in time to save their life.

A suicidal person who impulsively shoots himself or herself in the head cannot call 911. Anyone who finds them will be traumatized by the carnage and unable to help.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

3322 unborn babies are

3322 unborn babies are murdered every year since 2008, but there is little or no outcry from the left on this as it continues on. Is it because no guns are being used?

Jeff Johnson's picture

??? Huh?

Paul, not sure where you got your 3322 number. I just did a little online research, and the CDC reports 1.21 MILLION abortions performed in 2008. That's the last year the statistic is available, and it doesn't include abortions performed in CA, NY, or VT because they didn't report those numbers to the CDC because of their privacy laws.

That got me thinking and doing more research:

Number of gun deaths in US in 2011 varies depending on source, but 32,000 seems to be the average number.
2008 seems to be the last year for comprehensive abortion numbers, 1.21 Million.

The NRA reports 272,000,000 guns are owned by 52,000,000 owners. That's 5.23 guns per owner. that's 1 gun death for every 1,625 owners, or 0.05% gun deaths per owner.

The CDC reports that there here were an estimated 61,900,000 women of childbearing (10-44) age in 2008. That's 1 abortion per 51.2 women or 1.9%

I would think that it's much more deadly to own a vagina than a gun.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

It came from the same article

It came from the same article that referenced the 1.21 million abortions since 2008. I think they may have done a quick exercise in division to arrive at the per day figure. "I would think that it's much more deadly to own a vagina than a gun."
Adam was probably the first guy ever to learn that lesson. 0O:-)


Maybe I'm not parsing your comment properly.

You seem to (re)define the problem as gun-related suicides and accidents, since that leaves very few as actual assaults or self defense. I agree suicide+accident is a problem, but it's not the problem people are hyperventilating about. Many folks are screaming that SOMEBODY MUST DO SOMETHING! No one is demanding that the SOMETHING have any demonstrable effect on the problem, however you define it.

And it looks like Dear Leader will do many somethings later today, once again ignoring the Constitution. But the ends justify the means, dontcha know.

It's interesting to see you forgive yourself for your violent gun imagery. Ego me absolvo. When the culprit hails from the right, hypocritically he gets no easy absolution from the left.


Define+ redefine

It seems to me that this is the point of doing studies. If the main problem is suicide by gun, then probably the assault weapons ban will not seriously affect the number of gun deaths in the country. If it turns out most of these suicides are men and a lot of them are returning servicemen or seniors or men in the middle of family conflicts then maybe as a society we could come up with programs to help them find a less violent way of solving their problems and a waiting period for handguns might turn out to be as helpful as a ban. Accidents could probably be prevented with enhanced gun safety courses especially if they were required. Making people legally liable for criminal carelessness with guns and enhanced penalties for gun trafficking might also prevent some accidents and suicides. I expect assault weapon bans would have a greater effect on gun manufacturers, terrorists and drug traffickers than on the average hunter. A ban on these along with limiting the number and size of bullets would be helpful to police who are chasing criminals and in preventing the Rambo wanna-be who wants to go out in a hail of bullets showering the world with his rage, but again not a big impediment to hunting or collecting and probably not a big factor in getting the number of gun deaths reduced. The point is until we know specifically where the problems are and where the guns are, we have no hope of even trying to get peace or safety. It seems to me that the recommendations made by the President were a good start. It is also important to note that even one gun death, if it is someone dear to you, is one too many. And also police and firemen getting shot in the line of duty should not be considered acceptable.

Jeff Johnson's picture

Missing the point...

Let's get something straight here... We're blaming a lobbying group, the NRA, which has absolutely no ability to make congressional fiscal decisions for cutting funding to the CDC for research.

Folks... it's the congressmen who made this decision. They have every right to say "NO" to the NRA. But gosh... that would mean less of financial contribution to their reelection fund, wouldn't it? It would be interesting to see who was on the committee to cut the CDC funding, and what the NRA contributed to their war chests.

Don't blame the NRA for asserting political influence. However distasteful it may be, they're doing their Job. Blame the political whores that take the money and make the financial decisions.

Jeff Johnson's picture

No, Rex...

"So, when we talk about the lack of basic research on gun ownership and safety in the upcoming debate, we will have the NRA to thank for that."

We have to thank our elected officials for that.

PETA has a lobbying group too, but there's still plenty of research and funding for meat related industries, isn't there.

Penny Gray's picture

Wow, what an amazing point of

Wow, what an amazing point of view! It should be noted that most police are shot with their own weapons. So, I'm wondering how long it will be before the police are banned from carrying them, and how they might react to this ban?

AL PELLETIER's picture


I'm skeptical. What was your source of this information? I'm not calling you a liar, but I've done a lot of research about this subject and I've never stumbled across this.

AL PELLETIER's picture

OMG, Penny

Just read the whole thing. How did you ever extrapolate your contention from that crap. And the author, at the bottom of the article check out who he writes for. Smacks of NRA to me. (But it was entertaining)

Penny Gray's picture

More entertaining

AL PELLETIER's picture

It was interesting.

But never garnished national attention like the mass killing of 26 kids and teachers and this article still does not support your original contention. Sorry

Penny Gray's picture

And I wouldn't classify any

And I wouldn't classify any of this as "entertaining". Disturbing is the word.

GARY SAVARD's picture

Gee Robert, why cloud this

Gee Robert, why cloud this editorial with honest, factual questions?

Robert McQueeney's picture

This may be true, but many figures are missing

"In 2009, the National Institutes of Health crossed the NRA by funding a study that found a person carrying a gun was 4.5 times more likely to be shot in an assault as an unarmed person."

But what is not being said here is every bit as important as what is.
For example, in those assaults where the armed victim is 4.5 times more likely to be shot, just how many instances were there where the victim was armed, verses when the victim is not armed? How about a little perspective?
How many of those armed victims were criminals and these shootings were part of criminal activity on both parties (Such as a drug deal)?
Also, just how many times was the victim able to defend themselves when they had a weapon to put them on equal footing?
When a law abiding, gun carrying citizen actually uses his gun to defend himself, does his assailant now get labeled a victim? That would totally skew some results.

It's important to know the parameters of a survey, what questions are asked and how they are asked. Also important to know is what classifies a victim and an assailant?

It's easy to say: "In 2009, the National Institutes of Health crossed the NRA by funding a study that found a person carrying a gun was 4.5 times more likely to be shot in an assault as an unarmed person." What you have to realize if an armed assailant comes after you, and you pull out your gun, of course things are going to escalate. But a person, at least for now, has every right to defend themselves. Final question, in those assaults where the victim was armed, how many times was the victim able to safely defend themselves compared to the victim actually getting shot. Please provide some perspective here.

AL PELLETIER's picture

Good questions Robert

Perhaps if the NRA would have left further research alone we could give you an answer.

Steve  Dosh's picture

You're right Al ?  Aloha from

You're right Al ? 
Aloha from Pahoa 13.01.17 1st drafted 17:17 hst • 14º F ? Brrr...
In ? memory of the victims and their families they'ya in New England
Please sign our petition :
. . /s, Steve and kids , Hawai'i • 

AL PELLETIER's picture




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