The Dickie Amendment gets a lot of the blame for the lack of gun research being conducted by the Centers for Disease Control. Activists say that it basically kills any and all efforts the CDC would undertake to investigate gun violence in the United States. Since they also argue that gun violence is a public health crisis, they see this is a massive problem.
Which is why the Dickie Amendment has been under assault recently. Activists want to see the law repealed.
The American Medical Association says gun violence in America is a public health crisis, but unlike other threats, guns haven’t been researched by the federal government for more than 20 years.
That’s because of legislation called the “Dickey Amendment,” which passed in 1996, and banned the use of federal dollars to advocate for gun control.
As a result, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stopped researching gun violence out of fear their findings could be considered a violation of the ban.
Jonathan Lowy with the Brady Campaign blames the gun lobby’s grip on Congress.
“We know how to address and solve public health crisis in America, we’ve done it with automobile deaths, and obesity and smoking,” Lowy said. “The CDC has been constrained by Congress.”
The thing is, the CDC has been constrained by themselves and little else.
The Dickie Amendment rules that “none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) may be used to advocate or promote gun control.” That’s it.
The CDC’s decision to stop researching gun violence has little to do with the law itself and more to do with the institutional biases within the CDC.
You see, with science, you’re not supposed to go into it with a foregone conclusion. Yes, you have a hypothesis of what you’ll find, but you also have to be open to the possibility that your hypothesis is wrong. Science, in and of itself, is unbiased. Yes, that also includes research that may suggest gun control somehow works. Facts are facts, after all.
What the CDC’s decision suggests, though, is that they believed that their research was gun control advocacy, that they weren’t approaching the topic with an open mind and instead wanted to provide gun control groups and activists ammunition.
This position is further supported by what research the CDC tried to hide. You see, for a long time, people dismissed Gary Kleck’s finding of 2.5 million defensive gun uses by armed citizens each year. They did everything they could do debunk his numbers. However, the CDC had conducted their own research on the topic. Guess what they found? Pretty much the exact same numbers as Kleck did.
Did the CDC publicize these findings? No, they didn’t. It took years before Kleck unearthed the documents which proved him correct.
The truth is, the CDC isn’t as unbiased as they want people to think. No organization made up of people can ever be completely unbiased, in my opinion. They know they’re anti-gun and they want to conduct research to support that position. Their decision to stop all gun research when the Dickie Amendment passed isn’t evidence that the law went too far, it’s evidence that the CDC was advancing an agenda, not science.
Repealing the law is the last thing Congress should do. While we need research to learn and understand what’s going on with regard to gun violence, we don’t need activism masquerading as academics.
Besides, look at the crime rate since the Dickie Amendment. If the CDC’s lack of research was somehow linked to gun violence, you’d see it increase since the law was passed. Instead, what we see is a steady decrease that began before the law and has continued throughout the decades since.
So much for a public health crisis, huh?