Dozens of House Democrats are pushing to end the federal ban on gun violence research.
In a Friday letter to Reps. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) and Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), the Democrats urged the two senior appropriators to remove the decades-old prohibition as part of a year-end government spending package.
Led by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), the Democrats said the so-called Dickey Amendment — a long-standing provision that has effectively blocked federal research on gun violence — leaves lawmakers in the dark when it comes to crafting policies aimed at tackling the problem.
“We dedicate $240 million a year on traffic safety research, more than $233 million a year on food safety, and $331 million a year on the effects of tobacco, but almost nothing on firearms that kill 33,000 Americans annually,” the lawmakers wrote.
“The result is a lack of fundamental research on gun violence, gun safety, and what public policy measures will effectively stem the tide of gun deaths.”
The Democrats referenced a study, published by the New England Journal of Medicine, that drew a clear link between gun ownership and higher risks of homicide and suicide. It was published in 1993.
“[T]his cannot be our most recent publicly funded gun violence research,” they wrote.
Fifty House Democrats endorsed the letter, including Speier.
The group includes Reps. John Conyers Jr. (Mich.), the senior Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee; Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), who heads Democrats’ gun-violence prevention task force; Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), ranking member of the House Oversight panel; and Elizabeth Esty (D), who represents Newtown, Conn., the site of the elementary school shooting massacre that left 20 young children dead in December 2012.
Congress has until Dec. 11 to allocate federal spending to the numerous agencies, a process currently moving its way through the various subpanels of the Appropriations Committee.