WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons joined 24 other Senators in calling on leaders of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee to immediately act on legislation to fund gun violence prevention research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A bill has been introduced to provide $60 million in funding for the CDC to conduct or support research on firearms safety and gun violence prevention. In the letter, the Senators point to the overwhelming support from the medical and public health communities for recognizing gun violence as a public health crisis. Just today, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar again stated that there is no impediment to his agency from conducting gun violence research. In 2015, a CDC official released a statement noting it had commissioned an agenda of possible research goals on gun violence but still lacked the dedicated funding to pursue it: “It is possible for us to conduct firearm-related research within the context of our efforts to address youth violence, domestic violence, sexual violence, and suicide, but our resources are very limited.”
“In the wake of the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, it has become increasingly clear that gun violence in America is going to continue unabated until Congress takes meaningful action,” the Senators wrote. “On behalf of families across the country, we urge you to join the medical professionals in recognizing gun violence as a public health issue, and respectfully request that the HELP Committee consider S.834 at its next Executive Session.”
A copy of the letter can be found HERE.
Also signing the letter are Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.).
A Republican appropriations rider, first authorized by then-Congressman Jay Dickey (R-Ark) in 1996, prohibits the CDC from using federal funds to advocate or promote gun control. Some have misconstrued this rider as a ban on CDC research into the causes of gun violence.