Physicians to Congress: Time to lift the 20-year-old ban on gun research

Every day of 2015 marked more than one mass shooting on average.

To address this issue, physicians delivered a petition to Congress Wednesday morning calling for legislators to lift the ban on gun violence research.

"Gun violence is a public health problem that kills 90 Americans a day," Alice Chen, MD, executive director of Doctors for America, said in a statement. "Physicians believe it's time to lift this effective ban and fund the research needed to save lives. We urge Congress to put patients over politics to help find solutions to our nation's gun violence crisis."

Unfortunately just hours later, 14 more people died in a mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif.

Twenty years ago, Congress blocked the CDC from performing more gun violence research and cut funding for such research in an amendment to an appropriations bill. These restrictions were extended to the National Institutes of Health in 2011.

The author of the amendment, former Rep. Jay Dickey (R-Ark.), has even said he regrets the amendment and wants it repealed, stating in a letter, "Research could have been continued on gun violence without infringing on the rights of gun owners, in the same fashion that the highway industry continued its research without eliminating the automobile… it is my position that somehow or someway we should slowly but methodically fund such research until a solution is reached. Doing nothing is no longer an acceptable solution."

Though President Barack Obama issued an executive order in 2013 to resume the CDC's gun violence research, Congress has not allotted funding. In light of this and the countless lives taken by mass shootings this year, more than 2,000 physicians signed the petition.

Doctors for America, Doctors Council, American Medical Women's Association, National Physicians Alliance, American College of Preventive Medicine, The Committee of Interns and Residents, Physicians for the Prevention of Gun Violence, American Medical Student Association and American Academy of Pediatrics all joined the cause.


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