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The Sandy Hook school massacre has inspired a movement for more effective gun control. That has in turn generated a backlash of gun advocates calling for more guns, not fewer: armed teachers, concealed carry everywhere, and booming sales for guns that might become illegal. Each side claims this would dramatically reduce injuries and death from gun violence, and points to anecdotes to support the claim.

With all the differences in laws across states and cities, you’d think there might be evidence to support or refute these claims. But the NRA has lobbied maniacally and successfully to block federal funding and research to determine the effectiveness of gun control policies. For almost 20 years, research funding has come from just a few foundations. Read on to learn more.

Firearm violence is a public health problem that causes more than 30,000 deaths per year, about the same number as deaths from traffic accidents. The US spends substantial sums on research to improve traffic safety – more than $60 million for fiscal year 2012. The results are used to improve both automobile design and traffic regulations. Yet essentially nothing is spent on research on ways to decrease firearm injuries and deaths. Why?

Back in 1996, NRA lobbyists succeeded in cutting funding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and inserting language into the appropriations bill that said that no federal funds could be spent, “in whole or in part, to advocate or promote gun control.” Practically speaking, that has meant that no funds are allocated for research on the effectiveness of any public policy that might reduce harm, because those studies just might demonstrate that gun control works.

My profession is medical research. I’ve been in this field for 40 years. The gold standard in our world is “evidence-based practice.” That standard is supposed to apply whether we are recommending approving a new drug, releasing a medical device, or changing a public health policy. We carry out research and submit to critical peer review.

One of my colleagues has studied gun violence and its consequences for 30 years. He is an ER physician specializing in trauma care, and a trained epidemiologist. His goal is simply to understand what we need to do to cut down on the numbers of gunshot victims who keep showing up at the hospital door: evidence-based violence reduction. He was interviewed last week by Slate and spoke at length about the impact of the funding restrictions. He had this to say about what we already know from the best research out there:

It tells us that no one intervention is sufficient, but that an array of measures are effective, in different ways. We can set meaningful restrictions on who should have firearms, particularly when comprehensive background checks are in place. We can limit where and how firearms may be used, and what firearms should be owned by civilians. We can map and disrupt criminal firearm markets
It’s well worth reading the full interview at  How Congress Blocked Research (Slate)

We need to lobby VP Biden, our senators, and our representatives to ensure that any legislation in response to the deaths of children in Newtown removes these restrictions on firearm research and actually appropriates funds to determine what policies work. Let’s enact policies based on what we already know, and let’s study what happens to find out how to do even better.

Originally posted to Laurel in CA on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 03:05 PM PST.

Also republished by Shut Down the NRA.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The ATF also has (17+ / 0-)

    substantial and substantive numbers in this area.

    They used to release them as a matter of course, untill Congress prevented it.

    Guess who was behind that?

    I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
    but I fear we will remain Democrats.

    by twigg on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 03:08:18 PM PST

  •  It's barely even possible (10+ / 0-)

    to have that discussion right here on Daily Kos. This because, like it or not, the gun fans know their subject better than civilians, as it were.

    So here and in the wider world, it's imperative that gun control advocates do our homework and become fluent with the stats and facts.

    A good place to start is the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.

    Fuck you, I put on pants yesterday.

    by MBNYC on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 03:15:25 PM PST

    •  There knowledge (5+ / 0-)

      is used to misdirect the debate though. We all know what a lump of metal, travelling very fast, does to flesh and bone and we are also capable of doing comparisons between the USA and other countries to ascertain what proportion of the populations are being killed by guns.

      This is the pertinent information.

    •  Just remember... (13+ / 0-)

      I'm former military, so I've handled assault rifles extensively, and much of what Wayne LaPierre says about the assault rifles not being military rifles is true on a narrow reading but in substance total BS.  It's true in that "civilian" versions of military-issue assault rifles have slightly different dimensions, different calibre ammunition, different bells and whistles - maybe even just different colored plastic parts - but they're essentially military weapons.  They're not designed to be highly accurate, so real hunters avoid them.  Assault rifles and their ammunition are designed to maim - not primarily kill; a wounded soldier ties up more enemy attention and resources than a dead one.  Again, not what a hunter wants.
      So yes, please read up.  But, when you hear Wayne LaPierre and his minions spout some superficially rational-sounding argument about why your common-sense approach is wrong / has been tried and failed / won't work - feel free to say "bullshit".  It very likely is, and the majority of NRA-members think so, too.

      γνωθι σεαυτόν

      by halef on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 03:32:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  They often point out that an Assault Rifle (3+ / 0-)

        technically has a burst or full auto setting.

        While that's true, the US and many other NATO countries no longer include that feature on main battle rifles.  They're semi-automatic only.

        "Furthermore, if you think this would be the very very last cut ever if we let it happen, you are a very confused little rabbit." cai

        by JesseCW on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 03:36:41 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Agreed (0+ / 0-)

          The problem with automatic fire is that bullets to all over the place; I had my platoon fire a full magazine (24 shells) on automatic at a set of man-size targets at 50 paces and the best anyone got was 2 hits (practically everyone got 1 hit, the first shot).
          Practice would improve that slightly, but what for?  It's much better to train up to make the first shot count; if you miss that, automatic is not going to help you, and if you don't miss, you don't need the automatic (and you're not out of ammunition).
          Automatic fire (even bursts) are only useful if you're in a position with the gun on bipod.

          γνωθι σεαυτόν

          by halef on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 11:04:39 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  No question. (5+ / 0-)

        But just calling BS gets old after a while, and besides, the people here who are pro-gun aren't ipso facto bad people. There are a lot of shades of gray in this conversation, I think.

        And maybe it's an affectation, but my personal preference is to argue with some basis on facts I'm cognizant of.

        That said, LaPierre is an ignorant douche.

        Fuck you, I put on pants yesterday.

        by MBNYC on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 03:56:22 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think we agree (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          MBNYC, gramofsam1

          ... on the model.

          One is vulnerable if one tries to argue without any facts.

          My point was simply that LaPierre was using a rhetorical device to try to snow-job Gregory (and Gregory did bite but dodged):  piling on irrelevant facts.  The problem is this takes a long time to resolve in substance and gives the opportunity to pile on even more dubious facts, and requires a really intimate knowledge of the underlying facts.

          A serious debater, confronted with a litany of supposed facts, might think "crap, I don't know enough" and fold, when the proper response is to see the bullying for what it is and say:  "you know that's BS, let's return to the subject."

          γνωθι σεαυτόν

          by halef on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 10:50:24 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Gun fans don't know the subject better . (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Glen The Plumber, Miggles

      They BS that they know better , their pals back them up ...
      They fail to tell the truth often while claiming superior knowledge .

      "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

      by indycam on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 03:37:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Speaking as someone whom you would probably (4+ / 0-)

      label a gun fan, though I wouldn't put it quite that way, I'd suggest a better source. Any advocacy group might well only tell you what you want to hear. The CDC and the FBI are better, unbiased sources.

      I'd suggest getting the most recent statistics, and also saying what those #s are. "gun violence" misleads the reader into seeing someone shooting another, when we know that statistically 2 to 1 it should convey a mental image of one shooting oneself.

      You can still get statistics on handgun versus long gun, and you'd be surprised. Google is your friend.

      To convince someone of the rightness of your thinking you should always begin with the best unimpeachable statistics. Use words like homicide or firearm. I saw a brief but informative article earlier today but don't know where, it was something like a vocabulary explanation for liberals on discussing guns.

      At the same time you should recognize that even RKBAers deplore any loss of life to firearms, one of the most prominent member is a handgun instructor who teaches many classes, children even. When asked the right way they are very happy to give sources or info. Assume we all want to reduce all death from firearm.

      Know also that firearm homicides have been on a steep decline for years. I'm looking for the last 5 year stats from USDept Justice.

      How big is your personal carbon footprint?

      by ban nock on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 03:43:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, then tell me: (4+ / 0-)

        I'm not prepared to sit around waiting for the next Newtown, and I refuse to give your right to keep and bear arms supremacy over my right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I refuse to run around armed to the teeth and in fear of my life.

        It's nothing personal by any means, but all I've seen over the last few days from your affinity group is, to sum it up, everything is a problem and causative of gun violence other than guns themselves.

        In consequence, I see you and yours more as part of the problem than the solution.

        Am I wrong, and if so, why?

        Fuck you, I put on pants yesterday.

        by MBNYC on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 04:10:50 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  First you need to realize there will always be (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          more Newtowns. We don't like it but it's the world we live in. There are always sick people who wish to kill many kids, if you eliminated all guns tomorrow that would still be true. I think the worst or the first school masacre was dynamite.

          Second your right to life and liberty is in no way infringed upon by me, I don't even know you. If happiness means not feeling fear then that is up to you. I live in CO, so you have nothing to fear from me.

          I'm certainly not armed to the teeth, not even armed, no loaded guns in the house, on me or my car. Don't own a handgun, don't own a military style rifle (that works, firing pin gone from an old war souvenir)

          What works for me is to not worry about things that are very unlikely to affect me or my kids.

          In your last couple lines you say I fail to recognize that guns are the problem, then you say I and my ilk are the problem. If as statistics bear out, we are becoming more and more safe from gun homicide every year than I suggest you and your fears are the problem.

          How big is your personal carbon footprint?

          by ban nock on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 04:27:35 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Again, it's not (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Miggles, gramofsam1

            about you or me as persons, it's about the larger concept. I'm a New Yorker and saw 9/11; some random gun owners can blow me for all I care. Most of you guys seem too frightened of where I live to ever brave these waters, so there goes that problem.

            No, what I'm talking about is the systemic, nationwide issue  that is the collision of your (impersonal) right to arm yourself to the teeth with my (again, impersonal) right to live free of the random mayhem guns like yours cause.

            People say they have a right to their guns. What rights do the rest of us have to be safe from these guns?

            Fuck you, I put on pants yesterday.

            by MBNYC on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 05:03:28 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  all the right in the world, and we have laws (0+ / 0-)

              saying so. If someone walks up and plugs ya they get arrested, well maybe not if you told them to blow you, and if you were out here.

              We aren't frightened of NY, just dont' care for it. You guys are always bragging about things you don't even know about, out here we keep quiet and let actions speak for themselves. We're happy to take your wimin though.

              Nice talking to you, get over that scared stuff.

              How big is your personal carbon footprint?

              by ban nock on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 05:10:29 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  You're right about this. (0+ / 0-)
            I think the worst or the first school masacre was dynamite.
            Dynamite and a WWI surplus explosive that I can't remember the name of.  But please notice that explosives are much harder to get now than they were then.  By analogy, if guns or ammunition were much harder to get than they are now, possibly fewer firearms deaths and injuries would occur.  

            Renewable energy brings national global security.     

            by Calamity Jean on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 09:41:22 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Found what I was looking for but.... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joy of Fishes, notrouble

        It's from the Guardian
        I followed their link to the FBI but got only raw data.

        It looks like gun homicide is down about 16% over the past 5 years despite rising population. Bear in mind if you were to separate out handguns from all types of long guns, all types of long guns is at about the same rate at knives.

        Long guns include "military style assault firearms" shotguns, all types of rifles.

        What I'm getting at is that statistics and data do much less to change laws than horrific news events. Statistically firearm homicide is dropping, and it has been since a long time ago, mid 80s maybe. Any death is too many, but there are less all the time.

        How big is your personal carbon footprint?

        by ban nock on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 04:15:39 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  There is a fundamental disconnect when it comes (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Calamity Jean, Laurel in CA

        to the perception of gun violence.

        Almost 20,000 suicides.  Five to one, male.  Our society is fucking broken.  And these deaths aren't "because of" guns.  Country after country has tightened up fire-arm access without seeing their suicide rate drop.

        We only make a dent by creating a more humane society.

        Oh, and we piss off some profoundly sexist shitbags by asking the question "Why is life so fucked for men in this country that so many of them are ending?"

        On the other hand, absolutely no one needs a high capacity magazine that can be rapidly swapped for any legitimate purpose.


        Long gun or hand gun.

        Airbags save less than 1,000 lives a year.  We still mandate them.

        Your life is very, very unlikely to be saved by one - but we still try to save it.

        "Furthermore, if you think this would be the very very last cut ever if we let it happen, you are a very confused little rabbit." cai

        by JesseCW on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 04:34:29 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  One of the reasons that males (0+ / 0-)

          die from suicide is that males are more likely to use a gun.  The rate of suicide attempts is actually higher for females, but they tend to choose a method that gives them a chance to either reconsider or be rescued.

          Teenage boys are especially vulnerable- I've known seven of them who shot and killed themselves. In a couple of cases it was right after a girlfriend broke up with them. That momentary teenage impulse of ending it all, which is not uncommon, becomes fatal when a gun is handy.

  •  More on this via TPM from (11+ / 0-)

    "Do what you can with what you have where you are." - Teddy Roosevelt

    by Andrew C White on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 03:22:05 PM PST

  •  Oh the irony. Interestingly, I constantly read (7+ / 0-)

    comments from gun enthusiasts, here and elsewhere, about the need to deal with fact-based argument.

    Since the NRA is responsible from blocking facts, I feel not one bit bad about responding with what little fact there is out there AND emotion.

    I don't want to deal with gun violence anymore. I'm sick of it.

    And that's a fact.

    202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

    by cany on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 03:25:35 PM PST

  •  One problem.. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Glen The Plumber

    Half the country denies evidence. The deny evolution. They deny climate science. They deny employment numbers and polls.

    All they hear is, "they're coming to take my guns (burp)!" And more than willing pols eager to exploit them.

    They just s soon see the government collapse.

  •  t/r 1000 x (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Miggles, Calamity Jean

    from a gun owner.

    We need evidenced based policy.  Knee jerk legislation has been shown time and again to be wasteful of time and resources.

    I see a very beautiful planet that seems very inviting and peaceful. Unfortunately, it is not.…We're better than this. We must do better. Cmdr Scott Kelley

    by wretchedhive on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 06:16:52 PM PST

  •  More evidence from genuine experts: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    As shared in a related diary, from Daily Kos member aaraujo:

    (Please read and rec if you find the subject important.)

    Military Suicides

    Excerpt from a comment shared by yours truly:

    When we lost a service member, for whatever reason, it was a heart-wrenching experience. But it was worse in the case of those who took their own lives. Suicides have been a challenge for the U.S. military for a long time — and the problem is getting more severe. Suicides began rising in the middle of the 2000s, leveled off briefly in 2010 and 2011 and resumed climbing again this year, reaching a record high.

    In fact, suicides have become an epidemic. This year, more soldiers, seamen, airmen and Marines died by their own hand than died in battle. Suicide was the No. 1 cause of death for U.S. troops. More than two-thirds of suicides involved firearms, and nearly three-quarters of those cases involved personal weapons, not military weapons.

    (Emphasis added)

    Read full comment for additional links:

    Ask an expert: Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli

  •  Also check out SafetyLit, at SDSU: (0+ / 0-)

    Injury Prevention Literature Update & Archive Database ---
    Preventing Injuries by Providing Information

    Injuries have causes --
    they don't simply befall us from fate or bad luck.

    To prevent injuries it is necessary to have information about the factors that contribute to their occurrence. With this information we may understand the options for prevention. Effective injury prevention requires a multifaceted, multidisciplinary approach.

    What's in SafetyLit?

    SafetyLit provides abstracts of reports from researchers who work in the more than 30 professional disciplines relevant to preventing unintentional injuries, violence, and self-harm. Among these are anthropology, economics, education, engineering specialties, ergonomics and human factors, health and medicine, law and law enforcement, psychology, sociology, and other fields.

    SafetyLit is a service of the World Health Organization and San Diego State University.

    Try it yourself: Just go to the site and enter a search term of your choosing, like "guns" or "firearms" or "assault weapons" in their search engine and prepare to be astounded by the results.


    One example from initial results:

    Pre-service teachers who had completed their practicum or student teaching and in-service teachers in their first 3 years of teaching (n = 218) completed open-ended surveys about their beliefs and fears of school violence and rated their fears for such acts as use of weapons and the likelihood of those acts about their fears about schools and school violence.
    "That I'll be killed": pre-service and in-service teachers' greatest fears and beliefs about school violence

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