Why is there so little research on guns in the US? 5 questions answered – The Conversation


How much federal money is there?

In 1996, Congress passed the Dickey Amendment. The legislation stated that “none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control.” While that wording did not ban CDC gun research outright, the legislation was accompanied by a US$2.6 million budget cut. That amount happened to match the amount the CDC had spent on firearms research the previous year. The message was clear. From 1996 to 2013, CDC funding for gun research dropped by 96 percent.

The CDC wasn’t the only federal agency affected. In 2011, Congress added a similar clause to legislation that regulated funding for the National Institutes of Health. However, due to a directive from the Obama administration, the NIH continued to provide funding for gun research. That push faded as the Obama administration left office.

Earlier this year, the NIH discontinued its funding program that specifically focused on firearm violence. While firearms researchers can still apply for funding through more general NIH funding opportunities, critics say that makes funding for gun research less likely.

What prompted these funding restrictions?

The Dickey Amendment was passed after a CDC-funded study led by physician and epidemiologist Arthur Kellerman found that having a gun in the home increased homicide risk. After the results were published, the National Rifle Association pressured lawmakers, arguing that the CDC was inappropriately using its funds to advocate for gun control.