Christmas came early for the anti-gun lobby this year as Congress voted to spend another $25 million to fund research on “gun violence and its solutions.” Congress passed similar funding last year for the Centers for Disease Control to investigate the causes of “gun violence” and recommend gun control measures to (supposedly) reduce it.
The anti-gun group Everytown for Gun Safety cheered the additional funding.
“Federal action to combat gun violence is more crucial than ever as we face a pandemic that has made the gun violence crisis worse,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, a subsidiary of Everytown. “This package is a great start, and we’ll keep pushing for more funding and legislation that will save lives.”
Everytown’s President, John Feinblatt, echoed Watts’ sentiment and voiced eagerness to work with the new Biden administration.
“This package is a critical step forward in answering the call for action to address our nation’s gun violence crisis,” he said. “As we head into the new year, we look forward to working with Congress and the new administration to make sure the federal government has the resources it needs to comprehensively address gun violence in all its forms.”
Anti-gun activists have claimed for years that the federal government banned the CDC from researching gun-related violence, but that isn’t the case. In 1996, after the CDC began funding studies that recommended increased gun control, Congress prohibited the agency from using taxpayer funds that “advocate or promote gun control.” The CDC has always been free to fund research into gun-related violence, but they haven’t chosen to do so until recently.
Everytown also cheered a number of additional provisions in the spending bill, although some do not promote gun control.
The bill allocates $85 million to incentivize states to provide relevant records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) databases, ensuring that states that conduct their own background checks have access to the National Data Exchange (N-DEx) system, and requiring the Department of Justice (DOJ) to alert state and local law enforcement when a prohibited purchaser fails a background check.
The bill also requires the DOJ to provide statistics on gun purchases made through its NICS system. The agency is to provide comprehensive data on NICS checks for firearms sales that have taken longer than three business days to complete, including the number of those checks that were resolved, the number of those checks that were purged before being completed, the number of denied checks that resulted in firearm retrieval actions being referred to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and the number of successful retrieval actions taken by ATF.
The bill funds a number of additional initiatives for which Everytown takes credit but that do not specifically relate to gun control. The feds allocate $14 million, for example, to be used for “community-based violence prevention initiatives” that seek to address and help the people who commit violence with firearms.
The bill also allocates $513 million for various programs that address domestic violence, and another $132 million for schools to identify and help potential mass murderers.
Congress passed the spending package on Tuesday, but President Trump has signaled that he may veto it.
“I’m asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2000 or $4000 per couple,” Trump said in a video released on Twitter, referring to the direct payments as part of the bill’s COVID-19 relief efforts. “I’m also asking Congress to immediately get rid of the wasteful and unnecessary items in this legislation or to send me a suitable bill.”
If Trump chooses to veto the bill, Congress may be able to pass it anyway. It passed both chambers the first time with veto-proof majorities.