Monday, October 07, 2013

Where's the Science?

Last week, when gunshots rang out in the Capitol, there were legislators who hit the floor on their bellies, under a desk if possible.  I wonder how many of them were praying, "God, please don't let him have an assault weapon!"  Fortunately for them, this time it was law enforcement doing the shooting, but one of these days . . . . . . .

In an interview with Slate on Sunday, Garen Wintemute, a professor of emergency room medicine and director of the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California, Davis, revealed why gun research is such an uphill battle in the U.S. While guns claim 30,000 lives a year and injure 75,000, “federal funding for research is less than $200,000 a year,” he told Tiffany O’Callaghan. “In contrast, public health research on motor vehicle accidents—which also claim 30,000 lives each year—receives close to $4 million.”
This is not an accident—it is a result of a deliberate lobbying effort begun in the mid-1990s, Dr. Wintemute said. And it doesn’t look like it’s going to change anytime soon:
“There is a proposal in Congress to allow for $10 million in research funding. But I suspect it essentially has no chance of making it. Even if it did, our Department of Health and Human Services prohibits any of the funds from being used, and I’m quoting directly here, “to advocate or promote gun control.” That means even if I had money to do the research, it would be a crime to talk about the policy implications.”
According to Dr. Wintemute, disarming society isn’t an option—there are 300 million firearms in circulation. What works are background checks—specifically, weeding out those who are prohibited from owning firearms, such as people with a history of violent misdemeanors and alcohol abuse.
If you are interested in seeing how many people died from gun violence in your city or state, here is the link to the entire Gun Report article.

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