141 Medical Groups Want Congress to Fund ‘Gun Violence Research’

141 medical organizations sent a letter to Congress this week asking it to fund gun-violence research.  These organizations argued that the lack of federal funding and language in a law that prevents the CDC from funding research that promotes “gun control” have “caused a dramatic chilling effect on federal research that has stalled and stymied progress on gathering critical data to inform prevention of gun violence for the past 20 years.”

The letter was put together by Doctors for America, a group dedicated to improving affordable health care access.  It was founded in 2008 under the name “Doctors for Obama.”

Boasting a coalition of more than a million members strong, Doctors for America present themselves as a force to be reckoned with.  However, some believe that their call for research is a little misleading.

“These doctors have committed legislative malpractice. The actual statutory language they are complaining about does not ban the CDC from doing gun violence research,” said Larry Keane, the senior vice president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry trade organization, in an email to GunsAmerica.

“It only prohibits the CDC from advocating for gun control which it had done in the past and why Congress put the restriction in place,” continued Keane.  “I hope they pay more attention to details when they treat their patients.”

Below is the full letter for your review.

The Letter

The Honorable Thad Cochran
Chairman, Appropriations Committee
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Barbara Mikulski
Vice Chairwoman, Appropriations Committee
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Harold Rogers
Chairman, Appropriations Committee
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Nita Lowey
Ranking Member, Appropriations Committee
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Senator/Representative:

The undersigned health care, public health, scientific organizations and research universities representing over 1 million members across the country urge you to end the dramatic chilling effect of the current rider language restricting gun violence research and to fund this critical work at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In 1996, Congress passed the so-called Dickey amendment as a rider to the Labor-Health and Human Services-Education Appropriations bill. The language stated that the CDC could not fund research that would “advocate or promote gun control,” and the language has remained in each subsequent annual funding bill. At the same time, Congress cut CDC funding for this research. Although the Dickey amendment does not explicitly prevent research on gun violence, the combination of these two actions has caused a dramatic chilling effect on federal research that has stalled and stymied progress on gathering critical data to inform prevention of gun violence for the past 20 years. Furthermore, it has discouraged the next generation of researchers from entering the field.

Gun violence is a serious public health epidemic resulting in the senseless deaths of an average of 91 Americans, and another 108 gun injuries, each and every day. A central part of preventing future tragedies is through conducting rigorous scientific research as this has been a proven successful approach in reducing deaths due to other injuries.

Health care providers and public health professionals are overwhelmed in emergency departments, clinics, offices, and communities with the victims of mass shootings, homicides, suicides, accidental shootings, and firearm injuries. Medical professionals and our communities work to address the devastating and long-lasting physical and emotional effects of gun violence on victims, their families and their friends, but are hampered by the insufficient body of evidence-based research to use to point communities toward proven gun violence prevention programs and policies.

Former Representative Jay Dickey (R-AR), author of the current language that has effectively restricted gun violence research, recently noted that, “it is my position that somehow or someway we should slowly but methodically fund [gun] research until a solution is reached. Doing nothing is no longer an acceptable solution.”

Here are some of the critical questions that enhanced research would help us answer:

1) What is the best way to protect toddlers from accidentally firing a firearm? Safe firearm storage works, but what kinds of campaigns best encourage safe storage? What safe storage methods are the most effective and most likely to be adopted? What should be the trigger pull on a firearm so a toddler can’t use it?

2) What are the most effective ways to prevent gun-related suicides? Two-thirds of firearm related deaths are suicides. Are firearm suicides more spontaneous than non-firearm suicides? Do other risk factors vary by method? How do we prevent it in different populations—active military, veterans, those with mental illness, law enforcement or correctional officers, the elderly, or teenagers?

3) What is the impact of the variety of state policies being enacted? How are different policies around safe storage, mental health, public education, and background checks impacting firearm injuries and deaths?

The CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control is an important part of answering these types of questions. Public health uniquely brings together a comprehensive approach connecting the complex factors that result in violence and injuries including clinical, social, criminal, mental health, and environmental factors.

The impact of federal public health research in reducing deaths from car accidents, smoking and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome has been well proven. Decades ago, we did not know infant car seats should be rear-facing. Robust research on car accidents and subsequent legislation has helped save hundreds of thousands of lives without preventing people from being able to drive. It’s time to apply the same approach to reducing gun violence in our communities.

As professionals dedicated to the health of the nation and to the application of sound science to improving the lives of our fellow Americans, we urge you to take action this year. Americans deserve to know that we are working with the best tools and information in the fight to reduce gun violence deaths and injuries.

As Congress works to craft the FY 2017 Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill, we urge you to provide the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with funding for research into the causes and prevention of gun violence.

Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to working with you to improve health and protect the safety of all Americans.


Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine & Health
Academic Pediatric Association
Alameda Health System Department of Emergency Medicine
American Academy of Family Physicians
American Academy of Pediatrics
American Association for the Advancement of Science
American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy
American Association of Nurse Practitioners
American College of Emergency Physicians
American College of Emergency Physicians, California Chapter
American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
American College of Physicians
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
American Educational Research Association
American Geriatrics Society
American Medical Association
American Medical Student Association
American Medical Women’s Association
American Pediatric Society
American Psychiatric Association
American Psychological Association
American Public Health Association
American Society for Clinical Pathology
American Society of Hematology
American Thoracic Society
American Trauma Society
Arkansas Public Health Association
Asociación de Salud Pública de Puerto Rico
Association for Psychological Science
Association of American Universities
Association of Medical School Pediatric Department Chairs
Association of Population Centers
Association of Public and Land-grant Universities
Big Cities Health Coalition
Boulder County Public Health
Brigham Psychiatric Specialties
California Center for Public Health Advocacy
California Public Health Association-North
Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists
Central Oregon Medical Society
Champaign-Urbana Public Health District
Chicago Center for Psychoanalysis
Chicago chapter Physicians for Social Responsibility
Colorado Public Health Association
Committee of Interns and Residents/SEIU Healthcare
Congregation Gates of Heaven
Consortium of Social Science Associations
Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists
Cure Violence
Delaware Academy of Medicine / Delaware Public Health Association
Doctors Council SEIU
Doctors for America
Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma
Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Inc.
Futures Without Violence
Georgia Public Health Association
Hawaii Public Health Association
Health Officers Association of California
Houston Health Department
Illinois Public Health Association
International Society for Developmental Psychobiology
Iowa Chapter Physicians for Social Responsibility
Iowa Public Health Association
JPS Health Network
Kansas Public Health Association
Koop Institute
KU Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health
Law and Society Association
Lee County Health Department
Local Public Health Association of Minnesota
Louisiana Center for Health Equity
Maine Public Health Association
Maryland Academy of Family Physicians
Minnesota Public Health Association
Montana Public Health Association
National AHEC Organization
National Association of County and City Health Officials
National Association of Medical Examiners
National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health
National Association of Social Workers
National Association of State Emergency Medical Services Officials
National Association of State Head Injury Administrators
National Black Nurses Association
National Hispanic Medical Association
National Medical Association
National Network of Public Health Institutes
National Physicians Alliance
National Violence Prevention Network
Nevada Public Health Association
New Hampshire Public Health Association
New Mexico Public Health Association
North Carolina Public Health Association
Ohio Public Health Association
Ohio Public Health Association
Oregon Academy of Family Physicians
Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility
Oregon Public Health Association
Pediatric Policy Council
Physicians for Social Responsibility, Arizona Chapter
Physicians for a National Health Program NY Metro Chapter
Physicians for Reproductive Health
Physicians for Social Responsibility / Northeast Ohio
Physicians for Social Responsibility Wisconsin
Physicians for Social Responsibility, Arizona Chapter
Physicians for Social Responsibility/New York
Physicians for the Prevention of Gun Violence
Population Association of America
Prevention Institute
Psychonomic Society
Public Health Association of Nebraska
Public Health Association of New York City
Public Health Institute
RiverStone Health
Safe States Alliance
San Francisco Bay Area Chapter, Physicians for Social Responsibility
Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine
Society for Advancement of Violence and Injury Research
Society for Mathematical Psychology
Society for Pediatric Research
Society for Psychophysiological Research
Society for Public Health Education
Society of Experimental Social Psychology
Society of General Internal Medicine
Southern California Public Health Association
Southwest Ohio Society of Family Medicine
Student National Medical Association
Suicide Awareness Voices of Education
Texas Doctors for Social Responsibility
Texas Public Health Association
Trauma Foundation
Tri-County Health Department
Trust for America’s Health
United Physicians of Newtown
Vermont Public Health Association
Virginia Public Health Association
Washington Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics
Washington State Public Health Association
Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo
Whiteside County Health Department

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
The Honorable Paul Ryan
The Honorable Harry Reid
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Members of Congress

A Few Quick Thoughts

Let me start off by saying, I’m pro-research. I think the more facts we gather about a societal issue the better we’ll be able to understand it and solve the problems that it may create. And, I’m all for applying scientific scrutiny to gun-related violence. If you think about it, it’s actually worked out well for 2A supporters in the past. For example, thanks to research, various government-funded research panels concluded that bans on widely popular and commonly owned modern sporting rifles have virtually no effect on crime rates. In addition to being unconstitutional, gun bans — it turns out — are pointless policy measures that do nothing to reduce gun violence. If research on gun bans had not been done to refute specious claims by anti-gunners that they are effective, we would probably be looking at a whole different landscape with respect to the ownership of black rifles in this country. The Clinton-Era “Assault Weapons Ban” might still be the law of the land.

So, yes, research is good. Another example, I’ll mention briefly, is John Lott’s book “More Guns, Less Crime,” which points out, among other things, that a rise in gun ownership and an increased participation in the concealed carry movement have actually contributed to the across-the-board reduction in crime (property crime, violent crime, homicide rate) we’ve witnessed over the past two decades. Of course, Lott’s book wasn’t funded by federal dollars. Probably because it didn’t have the right agenda.

And, on that note, here is where I issue my caveat about federal research, which is that I’m all for unbiased research into gun violence provided that we acknowledge certain truths about firearms. For starters, the right to keep and bear arms is a Constitutional right. Moreover, it was placed in our founding document because guns, unlike cars, are a necessity! We need guns to safeguard our liberties. As the saying goes, an armed citizen is a free man, an unarmed citizen is a slave. In 2016, to many non-gun owners, this may seem like an antiquated idea but who really knows what the future holds. Throughout history, we’ve seen relatively stable empires descend into chaos rather quickly. We shouldn’t be so arrogant to think that it can’t happen to us.

Next, gun violence has and always will be a people problem — not a gun problem. The brunt of the research ought to focus on people — negligent owners, criminals, suicidal persons and the mentally ill — not the relative supply of firearms, the types of firearms in common use or the hardware/features of firearms. And I think this is a critical point to consider because the agenda behind much of this research as laid out in the letter is designed to “make guns safer.” That is a counterintuitive idea (hatched undoubtedly by anti-gunners). Guns are lethal weapons, tools for self-defense. If a user feels most comfortable shooting a subcompact pistol with no external safety and a light trigger pull, then he ought to be able to own and carry that firearm. Period. When questions about “trigger pull for toddlers” comes up, the ball has been dropped. And the research is headed in the wrong direction — an anti-gun direction.

The last point to consider is that no matter what we do there will always be accidents, suicides and individuals who criminally misuse firearms. Bringing gun-related violence down to zero is an impossible goal. Not to say that we shouldn’t strive to reduce it as much as we can, but until we cure the criminal mind, the suicidal mind and the negligent mind there will always be gun-related violence.

So, yes, let’s continue to research gun-related violence. Let’s find ways to attack the criminal demand for guns by creating a country where there are fewer criminals. Let’s find ways to encourage parents to be responsible with their firearms and teach their children gun safety. Let’s find ways to help those with suicidal ideations so they don’t feel compelled to take their own lives. Let’s do it all. But let us also remember that (a) gun control doesn’t work and (b) guns are here to stay. We need them. Our freedom depends on them.

About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

{ 20 comments… add one }
  • Willy June 25, 2018, 9:09 am

    Just keep sticking with what you went to medical school for, boys and girls, that is, writing prescriptions and managing disease, not curing it.
    Those of us that know what is going on and know the causes of gun violence know, it took at least a generation of neglect to get this way, and it will take at least a generation to return to being normal and not homicidal, that is, if we start, in earnest, today.

  • Steve December 27, 2016, 8:01 am

    No! Keep research money for diseases like cancer and diabetes, Aids. And any others that doctors should be concentrating on. Doctors should have no say where tax dollars go. Dam liberals are sneaky.

  • Herman April 16, 2016, 6:17 pm

    Don’t forget the history of the issue. An attempt at gun confiscation was one of the major causes of the Revolutionary war. More recently: “This year will go down in history. For the first time, a civilized nation has full gun registration. Our streets will be safer, our police more efficient, and the world will follow our lead into the future!”
    -Adolf Hitler, 1935
    Perhaps even more important, the taxpayers should not be forced to pay people to try to destroy their freedoms. If these doctors want to study the issue, why don’t they? They not only want to attack our constitutional freedoms, they want us to pay them to do it. How about we promote using taxpayer money to research stronger punishments for medical malpractice?

  • hey April 9, 2016, 6:44 am

    What they need to do is spend money on is how their own issued Phychactric DRUGS that are related to almost all of the mentally ill mass shootings. We can not forget about the 20,000 out of 30,000 sucide deaths per year that has you know from the ads are related to thoughts of suicide and violent outburst. I am sorry to tell people taking this stuff that your body will eventually have become dependent on it, just like any other drug in the world and your brain will have adverse side effects. I heard at one point on the news we where losing more troops to suicide than the actual enemy. Here is what the news didn’t say, when a soldier is diagnosed with dramatic stress system, they are issued phychiatric drugs. It is kind of funny we had much more troops in the Vietnam war that that were more involved in up close bloody confirmations and many troops losing comrades and they were not committing suicide. Back in the 70s kids brought guns to school for skeet practice and there was no school shootings committed. America is becoming a big drugged up country dependent on phamicutical drugs or the black market drugs which are circulating with the gangsters that are constantly allowed back out of prison to influence the next generation of criminals along with rappers marketing the drug kartel market. The lobbied FDA, licensed drug dealers, our justice system is why we are losing so many lives. Third world countries are much healthier and safer than Americans are. I can say that from experience concerning the countries I have been to. I only come back here for the money. As far as freedom goes, we do not have what we are lead to believe, except for the 2nd amendment we have to fight tooth and nail for that one. I wish I could say I am proud to be an American but the only way that could ever happen is if there was some organization that all of us could participate to destroy the communist influence prevailing in our country concerning the entire picture, not just one admendment.

  • l cavendish April 8, 2016, 8:51 pm

    Good…and when they find out how many blacks are killing blacks with guns…then maybe they will do something about it.
    Maybe they will also try and round up the illegal handguns in the hands of thugs and criminals…put a REAL dent in gun violence.
    And make sure to point out 60%+ of gun deaths are suicides…not really “gun violence” in the true sense of the term.

    • hey April 9, 2016, 6:06 am

      If the doctors medical group will never be allow to make a statement as that even when the research confirms it or they will be sued by the ACLU for racial comments.

  • B_Cubed April 8, 2016, 12:33 pm

    We want to spend more money to study what the NRA and other groups already support and recognize as a need, i.e., training for responsible gun ownership.
    Many people don’t responsibly use products. Industries have had to protest themselves from abuses, that’s why lawnmowers have shutoffs or blade brakes, carry out coffee cups have warnings about spilling hot coffee, and firearms manufacturers include safety instructions with each gun purchase.
    I agree with unbiased & impartial research but much of this is already known. If there were no guns would there still be the same number of suicides?

    • Herm April 16, 2016, 6:47 pm

      B_Cubed: Not sure exactly what your point is. Do you want to make guns so they can’t hurt anyone? It may be practical to put a shutoff on a lawnmower but making a gun that can’t hurt anyone is like making a knife that can’t cut anything. Sort of defeats the purpose of the implement.
      And as to whether there would be the same number of suicides if there were no guns? I’m guessing the number wouldn’t change too much. Although a gun is a quick method and hopefully painless, walking into traffic, a bottle of sleeping pills and a bottle of aspirin, a short piece of rope, or about a thousand other things which are easy enough to obtain will do the job. And by the time a person is so depressed that they seriously decide to end their lives, they will likely use whatever method is at hand.

  • Lance Dacus April 8, 2016, 11:50 am

    Half the doctors out there don’t know their head from their ass anyways! Give me a break. Let’s defund the Damn government if we really want to do some good here.

    • Mark Smith April 8, 2016, 12:36 pm

      In the 1990’s several researchers deconstructed the CDC’s “research” polemics. Patterns of one-sided errors in fact, methodology, and conclusions were presented to Congress and the CDC’s research prostitutes were un-funded. The peer-reviewed articles that most-influenced Congress are still available online and are worth re-reading:

      EDGAR A SUTER MD J Med Assoc Ga. 1994 Mar;83(3):133-48.

      Violence in America. Effective solutions.
      Suter EA, Waters WC 4th, Murray GB, Hopkins CB, Asiaf J, Moore JB, Fackler M, Cowan DN, Eckenhoff RG, Singer TR, et al.
      J Med Assoc Ga. 1995 Jun;84(6):253-63.

  • Chief April 8, 2016, 11:46 am

    There is a sickness in this Country called Liberalism which kills off common sense cells . .

  • Russ April 8, 2016, 11:37 am

    I can save a lot of money. Liberalism does not work, heres why. You make people dependant on the government. The areas where democrats are in control of and have been for a long time are usually inner city hellholes examples, chicago, miami, new jersey, parts of new york, st louis, minneapolis, atlanta, kansas city missouri, the list can go on and on. These areas do not promote family. Rampant lazyness, unemployment, single parent homes, fathers with children from multiple baby mommas, crime, fathers that dont help take care of the children they have irresponsibly fathered, abortion, again the list can go on and on. Then with the crime they have illegal guns and they use them proportionately on other black males. So theres the problem. Yes there is an illegal gun problem in the inner cities that usually involves black males killing other black males. It will slowly start to move out from those areas so people have to be prepared with their legal firearms to defeat the enemy. See I saved you fools all that money and I have the end result right here for you. I know this is not 100% right but you all know it is pretty spot on. The sheep will decry my racism, it is not. It is the truth. The real americans will say he almost nailed it 100%. To you non sheep I say thank you. To the rest keep your blinders on but some day soon it will smack you in the face.

  • Douglas Tally April 8, 2016, 10:50 am

    Part of the problem is the doctors have 8 years post secondary education and some probably come from Harvard where they come out with a double wammy right off. Turns out kids with a GED know gun violence is due to the breakdown of families, no fathers and no God in their life. The kids say let’s get rid of the notion life has no value as showcased by abortion in America. How embarrassing for Americans when Obama minions go to Africa to push American style abortion ills on the African beliefs and life style and get thrown out of the continent. The kids that come from single parent homes say find their Dad and make him pay child support and if he doesn’t have a job or doesn’t work enough hours, let’s put him to work or give him a second job on public work projects and pay the family first. The African immigrants that receive free Catholic school education at St. Mary of The Lake in Chicago would tell you, put God in peoples lives and you don’t have teen pregnancies which lead to fatherless homes, poverty and hopelessness. So let’s start with God and encourage faith in our religion as America was founded on v bending to every whim of the ACLU. Our political and social problems are rooted in denying God and those pushing abortion, no gender identification, what’s next coed gymnasium showers? We are pressure to accept rewriting history, and the semantics of ‘marriage’. The political elite, the race baiters and liberals are failing the country, failing families, relationships, children and people of good will. Thank God our future generation leaders are learning what it takes, and how to avoid the pitfalls and what needs to be done to get America back on track with the founding notion that God actually is needed to live in harmony, life is sacred in the womb and religion is the best doctor on earth.

  • Rouge1 April 8, 2016, 9:59 am

    Doctors are becoming the weapons of the government. You might consider this position or we will be saying white coat lives matter. I personally already consider you the enemy. You have become government snitches and traitors to the constitution. Doctors are becoming government hacks. You have your own law enforcement agency to extort money from the people called the irs. You people use force to make the unwilling comply.

    • DDSMD April 8, 2016, 11:55 am

      How are doctors the enemy? Govt hacks? Traitors? You don’t see the AAPS [American Association of Physicians and Surgeons] on this pathetic list. Most doctors despise the govt & what its done to our profession.

  • Ron April 8, 2016, 9:46 am

    Of course they want government money for research. They are nothing but a bunch of money grubbing liberals!

  • Pontificant April 8, 2016, 8:12 am

    When they want to start researching:

    1) What is the best way to protect toddlers from accidentally using a hammer, kitchen appliance and/or an automobile? Safe hammer, kitchen appliance and/or an automobile storage works, but what kinds of campaigns best encourage safe storage? What safe storage methods are the most effective and most likely to be adopted? What should be the handle/controls size on a hammer, kitchen appliance and/or an automobile so a toddler can’t use it?

    2) What are the most effective ways to promote firearm-related self-defense? More than two-thirds of firearm related self-defense are successful. Are firearm self-defense more spontaneous than non-firearm self-defense? Do other risk factors vary by method? How do we promote it in different populations—active military, veterans, those with mental illness, law enforcement or correctional officers, the elderly, or teenagers?

    3) What is the impact of restricting the variety of state policies being enacted? How are different policies around safe storage, mental health, public education, and background checks impacting the right’s of the citizens, outlined in the Bill of Rights?

    I’ll consider supporting this. Of course, it should be sponsored by something other than tax dollars, because there is nothing in the Constitution about funding research like this, but I digress…

  • MB April 8, 2016, 7:21 am

    Tell your doctor, dentist, or whatever that if they are members or support one of these organizations then you will be looking for a new service provider. If enough people do this you will see how fast this B.S. dries up…+

  • SuperG April 7, 2016, 10:55 am

    I knew there would be at least one OreTard group from my state of Oregon, though I wasn’t surprised when three turned up.

  • jaque April 6, 2016, 8:37 pm

    Gun use is not a health issue. Its not a disease, or condition. Guns are tools. When a gun is used against an attacker, and the gun works, stopping the attack the gun is not a health condition.
    It’s clear that this is an organized leftist attack upon the right to bear arms, trying a different angle, as the left’s other attempts against guns have failed.

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