A 2005 report of a committee of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) assessed the strengths and limitations of existing research on gun violence and gun policy, finding that considerable gaps exist in research and reliable data to evaluate the effectiveness of most gun violence prevention methods.1 The NAS report concluded that a comprehensive research program must be established to effectively evaluate firearm law and policy. The NAS report also noted the critical need for increased funding of gun violence research, particularly by the federal government.2

The NRA Thwarts CDC Research Efforts

The NRA bears significant responsibility for our nation’s lack of quality research about the utility of gun laws. According to a January 25, 2011 article in the New York Times, this funding interference can be traced to a clash between public health scientists and the NRA in the mid-1990s, when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were becoming increasingly assertive about the importance of studying gun-related injuries and deaths as a public health issue.3

Afraid of public health findings that would bolster the case for gun safety laws, the NRA influenced its congressional allies in the late 1990s to choke off CDC funding for public health studies, inserting the following language into the CDC’s appropriations bill: “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.” As noted in the New York Times article, “[t]he prohibition is striking, firearms researchers say, because there are already regulations that bar the use of C.D.C. money for lobbying for or against legislation. No other field of inquiry is singled out in this way.”4

  1. See Committee on Law and Justice, National Research Council, Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review (2005). ⤴︎
  2. Id., Janet Weiner et al., Reducing Firearm Violence: A Research Agenda, 13 Inj. Prevention 80, 80 (2007). ⤴︎
  3. Michael Luo, N.R.A. Stymies Firearms Research, Scientists Say, N.Y. Times (Jan. 25, 2011), at http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/26/us/26guns.html?pagewanted=all. ⤴︎
  4. Id. ⤴︎