By Paul D. Thacker|Posted Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012, at 5:38 PM ET
about gun control.
After the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, calls for gun-control legislation have begun. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said on NBC’s Meet the Press that she plans to introduce a bill to ban assault weapons. Even West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, who calls himself a gun supporter, says he sees no reason for these types of weapons.
But as Congress considers new laws, the scientific research we need to craft the best policies is in short supply. This is by design.
In the 1990s, politicians backed by the NRA attacked researchers for publishing data on firearm research. For good measure, they also went after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for funding the research. According to the NRA, such science is not “legitimate.” To make sure federal agencies got the message, Rep. Jay Dickey (R-Ark.) sponsored an amendment that stripped $2.6 million from the CDC’s budget, the exact amount it had spent on firearms research the previous year.
But last summer, Dickey recanted. No longer in office, he wrote an editorial stating that “scientific research should be conducted into preventing firearm injuries and that ways to prevent firearm deaths can be found without encroaching on the rights of legitimate gun owners.”
To understand more about what we know and don’t know about the science of firearm violence, Slate contacted Garen Wintemute, director of the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California, Davis Medical Center. For over 30 years, he has studied firearm violence and published more than 100 studies in the field.
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