AP Photo/Lisa Marie Pane
Democrats have been lamenting the so-called Dickey Amendment lately. That’s the law that prevents federal tax dollars from being spent on research promoting gun control.
The law is simple, and its goal is simple too. It’s about preventing the American taxpayers from funding research that’s meant to advocate for limiting their civil liberties.
However, the law has come under fire as anti-gun crusaders claim the law has a chilling effect on gun violence research as a whole.
Now, Democrats are trying to fight against it by earmarking some $50 million for research into gun violence.
House Democrats on Monday rolled out an initial version of an education and health spending bill for next year that includes $50 million specifically designated for federal gun violence research, laying down another marker on an issue they’ve pursued aggressively this year.
The $189.8 billion bill funds programs in the labor, health, and education departments. It’s the first of 12 individual spending bills for fiscal 2020, which starts Oct. 1, that the House Appropriations Committee plans to consider.
It includes $8.3 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including $25 million to support “firearm injury and mortality prevention research.”
“For the first time in more than 20 years, it also includes funding to ensure the CDC can conduct scientific research to reduce injuries and save lives from gun violence,” said Rep. Nita Lowey, New York Democrat and Appropriations chairwoman.
The bill also includes $25 million for similar research within the National Institutes of Health.
So, what does this mean for the Dickey Amendment?
Well, not much. For one thing, any law has to go through the GOP-controlled Senate.
For another, there’s nothing stopping research from being conducted. Any “chilling effect” is probably because biased researchers know they can’t get away with using taxpayer dollars to advocate taking away taxpayer rights anymore. That and a blatant misrepresentation of what the Dickey Amendment is about, of course.
It would be nice if some of these researchers could recognize that gun violence isn’t a disease, it’s a symptom. There’s always a person behind the gun, and if you remove the firearm from a violent person, they’ll pick up another tool. Figure out what their malfunction is and treat that, then maybe you’ll see violence drop across the board, rather than pretending that the weapon is responsible.
Of course, I suspect House Democrats would oppose anything like that. We might see a reduction in violence without restricting anyone’s gun rights, and you know how anti-gun lawmakers would feel about that.
Look, if gun violence is a pressing problem, then it only makes sense to look into violence. I’m just saying to stop pretending that “gun violence” is ultimately different from “knife violence” or any other violence committed with any other weapon. If we’ve learned anything from London, it’s that violent people don’t just stop being violent because you’ve taken away their favorite tool.
If you want to stop the problem, you have to look beyond the tool. That’s something I’m not sure House Democrats are even capable of doing.