A boost for research on gun violence

A boost for research on gun violence

Minneapolis Police Department crime lab technicians identified the locations of shell casings on the sidewalk outside the Clientele Barber Shop in Minneapolis, where three people were shot, one of them fatally, on Sept. 9. When the head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called gun violence a “serious public health threat” in a recent interview, it may have seemed like garden-variety politics. It was anything but. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC’s director, was ending more than two decades of official near-silence on the topic — and suggesting a better approach may finally be on the way. The last time a CDC director attempted to address gun violence was in the mid-1990s, when some of the agency’s research had connected home firearm ownership to higher rates of gun deaths. A Republican Congress, heeding industry lobbyists, promptly passed legislation blocking the CDC from spending resources to “advocate or promote gun control.” For good measure, it also cut $2.6 million from the agency’s budget — the exact amount spent on gun research the prior year. Over the next quarter-century, virtually all federally funded gun research ground to a halt. With few grants available, academics avoided the issue. Published research fell by 64% between 1998 and 2012. Although gun violence is the second-leading cause of death among young Americans, the U.S. government spent only $12 million to study the topic — extending a grand total of 32 grants — between 2007 and 2018. Cancer, the third-leading cause, received $335 million a […]

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