Submitted and written by Tristan Dorn
The CDC’s website lists the number of firearm deaths in 2013 as 33,804, or approximately 10.7 deaths per 100,000 people (“All Injuries,” 2016). However, other research and information regarding gun violence research performed by the CDC is hard to find on their website. This is surprising because the site lists Homicide firearms as the #2 leading cause of death for Americans aged 15-24, and the #3 cause of death for the 25-34 age group. It is the #5 overall cause of violence injury related deaths for Americans in 2010.This is excluding data related to suicide firearm related deaths, which is the #4 cause of violence related injury deaths in the United States, according to a 2010 study by the CDC (“10 Leading Causes of Injury Deaths by Age Group Highlighting”).
With scant information available regarding gun violence, especially considering how prevalent gun violence injuries and deaths are reported within the articles referenced, it is concerning that there is not a larger volume of reliable information available. Additionally, the thorough permeation of gun violence stories in our daily news brings about the question of what we can do to learn more about gun violence and to reduce the problem.
Why is it that the CDC has such limited gun violence research? Well, it mostly comes down to a simple piece of legislation, the Dickey Amendment (Cohen & Bonifield, 2015). You see, in 1993, there was an article released containing information from CDC research regarding gun violence. It implicated gun ownership as a risk factor for homicide in the home. This statement revealed that it was less safe to have a gun in the home for risk of its use for homicide by a member of the household or acquaintance rather than for protection. These results were highly controversial, and led to the passing of the Dickey Amendment due to heavy NRA campaigns calling for the end of the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention, the department that performed the study (Shumaker, 2015). Although they NRA was unsuccessful in ending the center’s research over injuries, in 1996 they were able to successfully able to end gun violence research via specific wording in the bill that prevented the CDC from using federal funds to advocate or promote gun control. While this study did not specifically take a stance against gun usage or call for increased gun control, Congress also removed $2.6 million dollars from the CDC’s budget for other uses. Coincidentally, this amount of money was the exact amount used for gun violence research (Jamieson). Since this controversial amendment, the CDC and external organizations have slowed significantly on their gun violence research, and information regarding the topic has dwindled.
With that being said, America has felt increasing tension and discomfort regarding gun violence over the past year. As a reader, this article has probably brought to mind a multitude of recent controversial cases regarding firearms, including the deaths of Trayvon Martin, who spurred the #BlackLivesMatter movement, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and the deaths of Dallas Police officers, Senior Cpl. Lorne Ahrens, Officer Michael Kro, Sgt. Michael Smith, Officer Brent Thompson, and Officer Patrick Zamarripa. It may have even brought to mind recent violence and shootings at the voting poles. These are only a few of the citizens who have been affected by gun violence.
This issue has continued to be at the forefront of our media coverage and has become integral to the political debates for the upcoming election. With a call for change or control over gun- related issues, where does out president-elect, Donald Trump, stand? Donald Trump has made very strong statements regarding his position on gun safety regulations in response to recent public concerns for increasing gun violence. His campaign addressed his view on access to and legislation surrounding gun laws. Below is the link to his stance on the issue as posted on his public campaign website.
Donald Trump (R)- President Elect
All Injuries. (2016, July 06). Retrieved August 06, 2016, from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/injury.htm
Cohen, E., & Bonifield, J. (2015, December 14). What happened to the CDC’s courage on guns? Retrieved August 06, 2016, from http://www.cnn.com/2015/12/14/health/cdc-frieden-gun-research/index.html
Jamieson, C. (n.d.). Gun violence research: History of the federal funding freeze. Retrieved August 06, 2016, from http://www.apa.org/science/about/psa/2013/02/gun-violence.aspx
Protecting Our Second Amendment Rights Will Make America Great Again. (n.d.). Retrieved August 06, 2016, from https://www.donaldjtrump.com/positions/second-amendment-rights
Shumaker, E. (2015, December 7). Doctors Condemn The NRA-Fueled Ban On Gun Violence Research. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/dickey-amendment-gun-violence-research-ban_us_56606201e4b072e9d1c4eaaa
U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Disease Statistics. (n.d.). 10 Leading Causes of Injury Deaths by Age Group Highlighting. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.