Let's Stop Pretending There's Nothing We Can Do About Gun Violence

by Maria Guido
Originally Published: 
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The deadliest mass shooting since the Sandy Hook massacre happened yesterday. 14 people were killed when a couple opened fire on a center for people with developmental disabilities. In the past week, there have been six mass shootings. A mass shooting involves 4 or more victims. According to, which tracks deaths by guns in America, there have been 355 mass shootings so far in 2015. That’s more shootings than days we’ve had so far this year.

Let that sink in for a minute.

It just keeps getting worse and worse. Each new statistic is met with a more horrifying one. A few months ago, we had cause to write this headline: There Have Been 43 Shootings By Toddlers So Far This Year. Where does it end?

We’re all in agreement about one thing: this has got to stop. But how? There are ways. Actual steps we could take to help curb gun violence. They involve actual research that can effect actual legislation.

There’s been a 20-year ban on gun violence research in this country courtesy of — you guessed it — the NRA. They lobbied for The Dickey Amendment, and the congressman its named after has his regrets. It states “None of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control.” That’s right, the Centers for Disease Control, whose sole mission is to protect public health and safety through the control and prevention of disease, injury, and disability — cannot research the effects of gun violence. The NRA was able to make the claim that studying the effects of gun violence on public health was veering toward “advocacy” and gun control. After the mass shooting on an Oregon campus this fall, Jay Dickey, reflecting on his namesake amendment, said “I wish we had started the proper research and kept it going all this time,” Dickey, an Arkansas Republican, told the Huffington Post in an interview. “I have regrets.”

Members of Congress joined physicians from across the country yesterday to call for an end to this ban on research. From Think Progress:

“Gun violence is among the most difficult public health challenges we face as a country, but because of the deeply misguided ban on research, we know very little about it,” said Rep. David Price, vice chair to the House of Representatives’ Gun Violence Prevention Task Force. “Regardless of where we stand in the debate over gun violence, we should all be able to agree that this debate should be informed by objective data and robust scientific research.”

The ban has silenced researchers and given policymakers little to lean on when they try to effectively push for legislation. Frankly, we don’t know how bad the gun violence problem is in this country yet — isn’t that staggering? For 20 years we’ve done no comprehensive studies on what causes gun violence and what we can do to prevent it.

“It’s disappointing to me that we’ve made little progress in the past 20 years in finding solutions to gun violence,” said Dr. Nina Agrawal, who’s been a pediatrician in the South Bronx for years. “In my career, I’ve seen children lives saved from measles, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, motor vehicle accidents…because of federal scientific data and research. It’s frustrating that the CDC is not permitted to do the same type of research for gun violence.”

The argument that “a gun is not a disease” bears little weight against an organization that has, as Think Progress notes, been researching motor vehicles, natural disasters, poor ventilation systems, and many other topics that wouldn’t be labeled a disease for years.” By the way, the Doctors for America event ended just a few hours before news broke of the mass shooting in San Bernardino yesterday.

There is something we can do about gun violence. We’re just not doing it.

More guns equals more death. Period. Statistics back this up, year after year. This year, gun sales are reaching epic numbers. A record 185,345 background checks (roughly two a second) were processed by the FBI on Black Friday. Do you know when the previous record for the most background checks in a single day was set? According to The Guardian, “About a week after 20 children and six adults were shot to death at Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut. In the week following the massacre, a total of 953,613 background checks were processed.” Would it be a stretch to say that these mass shootings are damn good for the gun business? The NRA probably wouldn’t admit it, but they sure as hell know it. After Sandy Hook, Wayne LePierre’s (President of the NRA) official statement was “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

Yes, lets just keep pushing for more guns in the hands of “good guys,” keep shying away from laws that will help us control the sale of guns, and keep banning research that aims to inform us just why it’s gotten so bad.

That seems to be working.

{Scary Mommies: It’s up to us. Together, WE CAN DO THIS. Please join us in taking a stand against gun violence and fighting for a safer country for our children. Learn ways to make a difference at}

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