Where's the data on gun violence?
When it comes to objective data about gun violence, everybody’s shooting in the dark.
As the gun debate is pushed further to the forefront of national discourse, advocates on both sides are pushing their own agendas via press releases, TV commercials, web ads and editorials.
But there’s a hiccup in this media shoot-out: a scarcity of cold hard facts about the real toll of gun violence in the United States. Much of the information presented is anecdotal or relates to individual news events, be it the Atlanta mother who shot a burglar early this month when he discovered her hiding family, or the headline story this weekend about a woman in Chicago whose son was killed in a gunfight—her fourth child to die at the end of a barrel.
The U.S. government has done studies on health and public safety concerns about everything from cigarettes to seat belts, and they’ve proven beneficial. Reports on tobacco and auto safety over the past half century have led to significant decreases in deaths from smoking and driving. Yet, we’ve never seen a comprehensive government study on the effects of gun violence in America—which would seem to be a no-brainer in the public safety department. Strange, but true.
But there is a reason for it: Back in 1996, the NRA effectively lobbied Congress to make it impossible to put money into any efforts to study the issue.
Bing: Latest on the gun debate
There were several governmental studies in the 1990s, under the auspices of the Centers For Disease Control and other agencies, that highlighted the risks associated with gun ownership. The findings of these government entities ran counter to the NRA’s stated positions and claims, and so began an intense full-court press on Congress to shut down gun studies.
The NRA was resoundingly successful. In 1996, Congress began inserting the following wording into appropriations bills: “None of the funds made available in this title may be used, in whole or in part, to advocate or promote gun control.”
Almost immediately, more than $2 million earmarked for CDC studies into gun violence was diverted into studies on brain injury.
This Congressional constraint has since applied to budgets across the spectrum, including the CDC, Health And Human Services, and even Defense Department appropriations. In the past 17 years, no government study of any note has explored the effects of guns on our society.
Now, President Obama wants $10 million given to the CDC to explore both the causes and possible prevention of gun violence. History has not been in favor of such intentions, but the rhetoric for and against gun control has rarely been this intense.
Photo: Gun shop customers in Sarasota, Fla., shop for weapons as they listen to announcement about gun control by Obama, Jan. 16 2013 (Brian Blanco/Reuters)
inspire: live a better life
Miss Manners advises on how to respond when one gets unsolicited advice about weight issues.
Editor's note: We will now be publishing Miss Manners articles twice weekly, but you will only see one question and answer per article. You can expect to see these articles appear on Tuesdays and Thursdays going forward.
President Harry S. Truman was behind efforts to establish the first Armed Forces Day in 1950, and decades later the nation continues to set aside the third Saturday in May to recognize and thank members of the U.S. military for their patriotic service. With these five homecoming images, we salute all service members at home and abroad.
There's much to be desired about working from home: the stress-free commute, flexible hours, and improved work-life balance.
Wishing for the fountain of youth? You may not need it. We've rounded up real-women secrets, tried-and-true beauty tips, and the latest research to help you fight aging.
Experts weigh in on when to bite your tongue at the office.
Oh, the places you'll go — to get some "me" time, that is. REDBOOK readers confess all on Facebook.
How much money you make isn't nearly as important as how you use it, according to Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton, authors of the new book Happy Money.
Plus, how do you ask people to not bring gifts to a shower?
Looking for a career upgrade? Follow these tips for a foot in the door.
These tanning and skin cancer myths aren't just wrong — they can do serious harm. Wise up and head into a healthier future. P.S. You'll look a lot younger too.
It's possible to rejigger your brain circuitry and feel more joy, even on Monday mornings. Here's how.