A Democratic lawmaker introduced a bill Thursday that would ensure federal funding for gun violence research.
Rep. Stephanie Murphy‘s bill, called the Gun Violence Research Act of 2017, would repeal provisions that essentially prevent the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other federal agencies from conducting research on gun violence and ways to prevent gun fatalities and injuries.
“This research would inform policymakers as they consider whether to enact reasonable reforms that both save lives and protect the constitutional rights of law-abiding gun owners,” Murphy said in the U.S. House of Representatives Thursday.
“The decision rests with elected officials about whether to pass new laws designed to keep the most dangerous weapons out of the hands of the most dangerous individuals, in a manner consistent with the Second Amendment,” she continued. “But lawmakers of both parties should have the benefit of the best scientific research on the subject as they deliberate and debate.”
In light of almost-certain Republican opposition, Murphy took the opportunity to blast lawmakers she called “un-American” for not supporting such research funding in the past.
“I can respect that elected officials, like the diverse Americans they represent, have a range of views about the wisdom of enacting reasonable reforms within the space allowed by the Second Amendment,” she said. “What I cannot respect is any lawmaker who would seek to suppress research into gun-related incidents merely because the lawmaker fears this research could serve as the basis for legislative action that the lawmaker does not favor.
“Restricting research because you may disagree with its results is un-American to its core, a deviation from our proud national tradition of free and open inquiry.”
Newsweek reports the provisions Murphy aims to repeal came as the result of a 1996 budget rider now known as the Dickey Amendment. Though the measure did not explicitly prohibit gun violence research, it did essentially prevent agencies like the CDC from conducting such research due to fears they would lose all of their funding.
In 2015, former Republican Rep. Jay Dickey wrote a letter denouncing the ban put in place by the passing of his own amendment.
“I took part in cutting off gun violence research dollars at the federal level because of what was considered a misapplication of the dollars by the CDC,” Dickey wrote. “I have recently expressed my regrets that we didn’t continue that research with the provision that nothing shall be done in this project to infringe the rights of gun ownership as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution in the Second Amendment.”
“It is my position that somehow or someway we should slowly but methodically fund such research until a solution is reached,” he continued. “Doing nothing is no longer an acceptable solution.”
Sarah Tofte, research director for gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety, praised Murphy’s bill in a statement released Thursday.
“The legislation introduced today by Representative Murphy to lift the budget rider on federal funding for gun violence research is an essential first step [in] restoring the government leadership role in gun violence prevention,” Tofte wrote. “It is imperative that Congress provide the long overdue funding to study the role of firearms on public health – American lives are on the line.”
The bill has been referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, but is highly unlikely to succeed in the Republican-controlled House.
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