Monday, February 19, 2018
It’s February 19, and according to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 1,983 gun deaths and 3,433 gun injuries so far in 2018. Yesterday 23 people died and 51 were injured. Normally, an epidemic of deaths from unnatural causes would be a major focus for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but that is not the case.
The 1996 Dickey amendment stated 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”. While it may seem that gun violence research could continue, congress earmarked the $2.6 billion of the CDC budget that would have continued previous research specifically to traumatic brain injury study.
In 2013, the president directed the CDC to restart gun violence research. This lead to a CDC publication addressing gun violence in Wilmington, Delaware and suggesting opportunities for prevention, including focusing resources on potentially high risk violent youth. CDC then added that it was possible to conduct firearm-related research to address youth violence, domestic violence, sexual violence, and suicide, but that there was not the financial resource to do so. The Dickey amendment was reauthorized by Congress in 2015 and research efforts were curtailed.
There were 15,592 gun deaths and 31,185 injuries in 2017. These deaths do not include the more than 22,000 suicides recorded. More people were shot to death than were killed by drunk drivers. The question is why?
Violent video games and graphic movies don’t stop their content at political borders. People in New Zealand, Australia and Europe are exposed to the same online and entertainment content and yet, there are no masses shooting (345 last year, almost one a day). Similarly, people drink across the planet, but only in the US do people drive drunk without significant consequence…including thousands of deaths each year. What conditions exist in the United states that cause so much death and destruction.
Question are easy and answers are not. For that reason, the CDC needs to be empowered and encouraged to research and understand the epidemic of violence and offer explanations and recommendations. Ten times as many children died from gunshot wounds than from this year’s influenza epidemic and there does need seem to be the will in Congress to fund those who can help solve a public health catastrophe.
With the latest mass shooting in a Florida high school, students seem to be taking the lead and teaching us that being quiet and passive no longer is an alternative. We need to listen to those who can teach and it is not always the adults in the community.
This entry was tagged CDC, deaths, Dickey, gun, injuries, suicide, violence