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Working Against Gun Violence

Working Against Gun Violence

There’s a ban on smoking in most bars and restaurants in the U.S.; in most cities, there’s a ban on spitting in public; and in many states dancing on Sunday is still banned. But did you know that since 1996 the U.S. Congress has banned the CDC (and later the NIH) from researching gun violence?

That means the next time you hear someone say, “Only people with mental health problems shoot people,” there’s no research to back it up (and it may not be true). And if you tried to determine how many children are accidently shot every week in the U.S., the National Institutes of Health couldn’t tell you.

That’s why Doctors for America, the National Physicians Alliance, the Committee of Interns and Residents, the American Medical Women’s Association, and the American Medical Student Association recently petitioned several members of Congress to overturn that law and allow the CDC and NIH to do such research.

By this time next year 100,000 U.S. residents will have been shot and 32,000 will have been killed. We can start to slow this public health crisis by allowing the CDC and NIH to do their jobs. Although some states keep statistics on gun violence and national research is done by private concerns like the BradyCampaign.org, shootingtracker.com and gunviolencearchive.org, those organizations haven’t been able to get the law changed. Maybe this effort will.

Knowledge about what triggers gun violence can help reduce it without impinging on responsible citizens’ right to bear arms. All Americans should support that.

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