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One of the more meaningful of Obama's executive orders today may be the one directing the Centers for Disease Control to "research the causes and prevention of gun violence." One would think that the federal government would, if nothing else, have at least taken upon itself the rather benign chore of determining whether there was anything that could be done to reduce the modern epidemic of gun violence—but you'd be wrong, because guns have become so fetishized, in America, that Congress has repeatedly blocked federal scientists from even looking into that:
From the mid- 1980s to the mid-1990s, the CDC conducted original, peer-reviewed research into gun violence, including questions such as whether people who had guns in their homes gained protection from the weapons. (The answer, researchers found, was no. Homes with guns had a nearly three times greater risk of homicide and a nearly five times greater risk of suicide than those without, according to a 1993 study in the New England Journal of Medicine.)

But in 1996, the NRA, with the help of Congressional leaders, moved to suppress such information and to block future federal research into gun violence, Rosenberg said.

An amendment to an appropriations bill cut $2.6 million from the CDC’s budget, exactly the amount the agency’s injury prevention center had previously spent on gun research. The money was returned to the agency later, but targeted for brain injury trauma research instead.

In addition, the statute that governs CDC funding stipulated that none of the funds made available to the agency can be used in whole or in part “to advocate or promote gun control.”

The results have been a near-full stop on research into effective gun safety policies, including ways to reduce accidental gun deaths, domestic violence involving guns, and other basic policy questions.
“When I first started, there were 50,000 people a year dying on the highways. Now it’s 32,000 and that’s because there’s been superb scientific research,” Teret said. “We need to be able to address gun-related injuries in the same scientific manner as highway injuries.”
One would think. But while Obama may be able to lend his weight to efforts to restore basic federal research aimed at reducing America's 30,000 gun related deaths per year, it will be up to Congress to fund individual research initiatives—research that NRA-beholden members have effectively blocked for nearly two decades. And the National Rifle Association remains insistent—even more so than during the 1990's—that no further research into reducing America's gun violence be allowed to go forward.

So now we wait. Is announcing to federally funded researchers that they are, in fact, allowed to tackle the issue of gun violence and gun safety an impeachable offense? We shall see. If nothing else, we certainly should look forward to hearing from the first imbecile that tries.

Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2009As of This Minute, The Bush Administration Has Effectively Ended:

It's 5:00 PM in the Eastern time zone, which includes Washington DC.  5:00 PM is the standard end of the workday.  It's Friday, the end of the week.  Monday is a federal holiday, so the mass of federal employees will not be working.  On Tuesday President-elect Barack Obama will become President Barack Obama, our nation's 44th president.  

Some White House staff will be kept on for the next few days.  Certainly in the defense, foreign policy and domestic security areas there are Bush appointees who will--and should--remain on call or at their desks between now and Tuesday.  The could still be some late-night activities happening with some of the legal staff.  But in terms of devising, implementing and enforcing policies, as of this moment, the Bush administration is effectively over.  

It was exhausting, it was most of the time maddening, infuriating and often embarrassing and even shameful for our government to be led by George W. Bush and his administration.  But we have endured.  The country is damaged, but not destroyed.  President Obama and the Democratic people, the massive and professional civil service, and especially the American people have a great deal of work and struggle before us to restore our country's honor, prestige, respect, security, prosperity and opportunity.  

We're all up to that challenge.  But before we embark on that, let's let out a sigh of relief, and if you're inclined, now or later tonight, raise your glass and toast to the effective end of the administration and presidency of George W. Bush.  

Tweet of the Day:

Texas Republicans forgets state hasn't seceded, propose bill to make enforcing federal gun laws a felony http://t.co/... #icymi
@thinkprogress via TweetDeck

Lots of gun talk today on Kagro in the Morning. Greg Dworkin joined us for a discussion of the crazy-ass NRA ad, prospects for legislation, and the politics & coverage of executive action. Also: the history of debt ceiling votes and the now dormant "Gephardt Rule." Firearms Derangement Syndrome, and asymmetry in gun policy "constitutional hardball."Armando on the debt ceiling, The Coin, and Boehner's loss of control. And a reading of Bush Treasury official Tony Fratto's Twitter explanation of why "prioritizing" can't really stave off default.

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