CDC Ban on Gun Research Caused Lasting Damage
President Obama may have ended the 17-year ban on gun violence research at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but even if Congress restores research funds, experts say the damage runs deeper than funding cuts.
Since the 1996 ban, many of the leading researchers of the 1980s and 1990s have moved on to other specialties, and some said they’ve even discouraged students from specializing in gun violence research because the work doesn’t pay. The ban also helped make gun-related questions controversial even for studies not funded by the government, and it will take years to restore available data to what it once was.
“Good research was being done by Art [Kellermann] and by us and by others on what the risk factors were for firearm violence, and how it might be prevented and so forth,” said Dr. Garen Wintemute, an emergency room physician and leader on gun violence research at the University of California at Davis. “I won’t say it halted, but it decreased substantially in scale.”
The CDC conducted gun violence research in the 1980s and 1990s, but it abruptly ended in 1996 when the National Rifle Association lobbied Congress to cut the CDC’s budget the exact amount it had allocated to gun violence research.