We think of the Centers for Disease Control as collecting data on just about everything. But scientists say a lack of funding and political pressure had long prevented them from researching gun violence. And not just the possible causes of violence — but data collection around specific acts of violence.
On Wednesday, the president addressed the need to look for those causes in his proposals to curb gun violence. In a section [PDF] titled “End the Freeze on Gun Violence Research,” the president directs the CDC to research gun violence and also wants Congress to pony up $20 million to expand the national database on violent deaths.
“We don’t benefit from ignorance,” Obama said. “We don’t benefit from not knowing the science from this epidemic of violence.”
From the president’s plan:
… for years, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other scientific agencies have been barred by Congress from using funds to “advocate or promote gun control,” and some members of Congress have claimed this prohibition also bans the CDC from conducting any research on the causes of gun violence. However, research on gun violence is not advocacy; it is critical public health research that gives all Americans information they need.
Larry Cohen, executive director of Oakland’s Prevention Institute, called the backing of research “perhaps the most important part” of the President’s proposals.