More on opposition to gun violence research

As well as the blog I posted yesterday, I intended to mention an excellent piece that appeared in  One quote in particular caught my attention and previews the tone of the article:

David Satcher, the then-director of the CDC, wrote an Op-Ed in the Washington Post in November of 1995 warning that the NRA’s “shotgun assault” on the CDC was dangerous both for public health and for our democracy:

What ought to be of wider concern, is the second argument advanced by the NRA — that firearms research funded by the CDC is so biased against gun ownership that all such funding ought to cease. Here is a prescription for inaction on a major cause of death and disability. Here is a charge that not only casts doubt on the ability of scientists to conduct research involving controversial issues but also raises basic questions about the ability, fundamental to any democracy, to have honest, searching public discussions of such issues.

Dickey’s clause, which remains in effect today, has had a chilling effect on all scientific research into gun safety, as gun rights advocates view “advocacy” as any research that notices that guns are dangerous. Stephen Teret, who co-directs the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, told Salon: “They sent a message and the message was heard loud and clear. People [at the CDC], then and now, know that if they start going down that road, their budget is going to be vulnerable. And the way public agencies work, they know how this works and they’re not going to stick their necks out.”

 For those interested in this issue (and everyone should be more than interested!), the link to the salon piece is: and the author of the piece is Salon’s political reporter, Alex Seitz-Wald.

And, to place the topic in a broader context, readers of this blog should visit a link from New South Wales (Australia). The piece is called: “Not on our watch’: shooters’ lobby frustrates tighter controls on guns. The important difference is, of course, that the Salon piece describes restrictions on research in the U.S. whereas this account simply reiterates all the weary tactics pro-gun advocates use, in this case, stacking a government committee with supporters. Here is an excerpt:

Fairfax Media has obtained documents that show NSW police wanted new controls that would make it easier for authorities to revoke gun licences, refuse shooting permits, restrict shooting on rural land and tighten rules around gun storage.

It would also take away the right of people convicted of sexual offences to own a gun. Unlicensed shooters would also have to sign a waiver declaring they are not mentally disturbed each time they visit a shooting range. They only have to sign once under the current law.

However, the committee rejected the changes before the public was allowed a say on a new Firearms Regulation law. This action took place before the latest US massacre.

This is the link to the article in the Sydney Morning Herald, written by Heath Aston, and appearing on Dec 20, 2012.

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