The central public policy question — does gun control save lives? — is impossible to answer without solid research. But there has been much less research in the US since 1996 as a result of the gun lobby’s success in denying federal funds for scientific research into gun violence. In spite of the courageous stand of David Satcher, the director of the CDC at the time, the ban succeeded. Recently, Fred Rivara wrote: “The effect of the Congressional Appropriation language has been to suppress any federally funded public health research on firearm violence for more than a decade. Those of us who work in the public health field realize that guns are and have been for a long time a major threat to the health of the nation. Why do we as citizens not want to know better ways to protect our children? “
Editor: It appears that ban is now or will soon be lifted. The question then is what studies should be top of the list? Brian Johnston asked this question in an earlier blog and received a few responses. More suggestions are needed. You may be ‘inspired’ by going to the Mother Jones list of anti-Obama, pro-gun tirades (linked in an earlier blog) to discover what arguments need to be overcome. On the other hand, you may conclude that these are not people who are the least bit interested in what solid science can contribute. Fortunately there is a much larger section of the American public who do want answers and we owe it to them to do the studies that will provide those answers.