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STATEMENT: Gabrielle Giffords, Medical and Public Health Partners on Historic Win for Gun Safety as Congress Allocates $25 Million for Gun Violence Research

 Coming at the end of a violent 2019, funding is the first such investment in more than two decades 

Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, co-founder of the gun violence prevention organization Giffords, praised the inclusion of gun violence research investments in a must-pass government funding bill for the first time in more than two decades. The gun violence research funding is found in the Fiscal Year 2020 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations bill. This historic investment in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) comes more than two decades after the last such allocation in the Fiscal Year 1997 funding bill, when legislative language known as the Dickey Amendment was added stating the CDC may not “advocate or promote gun control.”

Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords:

“For far too long, the United States Congress put the political agenda of the gun lobby over our nation’s public health and safety. But today, with outraged Americans demanding solutions to gun violence and a new gun safety majority elected to the House of Representatives, change is happening. This investment in gun violence prevention research at CDC and NIH will shine a bright light on and help solve one of our nation’s most deadly and embarrassing problems. I am enormously grateful to Speaker Pelosi, Chairwoman Lowey, Chairwoman DeLauro, and each of my colleagues in Congress who prioritized this funding this year, and Chairwoman Lowey’s leadership on this historic win, in her last Congressional term, adds to a legacy already brimming with success. I send a heartfelt thanks to every American who has stood up, spoken out, and turned out to demand action from our elected leaders. We celebrate this momentous step, and we will use it to power us forward as we continue our fight to save lives.”

Prior to the start of the 116th Congress, Giffords launched a partnership with leading medical and public health groups to advocate for research funding at the CDC and the NIH to study gun violence, gun deaths, and gun injury in order to better improve public health and safety. In 2019, the coalition sent multiple letters to Congressional leadership calling for this investment, noting that over the past several decades scientific and medical research has led to policies that have saved countless lives related to automobiles, public sanitation, and cancer. The groups also joined with local partners and elected officials to host rallies for research funding in Denver, Orlando, and New Orleans, which reinforced that across the country communities supported the ability for top federal researchers to study this crisis.

Before the successful push this year to secure funding, Giffords had brought together national leaders to draw attention to the urgent need for lawmakers to act. In 2016, Giffords organized the last four Surgeons General to call on Congress to properly fund this public health research.

Stakeholders from the Giffords partnership also weighed in on this historic achievement:

Georges C. Benjamin, MD, executive director of the American Public Health Association:

“The federal government plays an essential role in providing the resources and leadership to do the research that protects our health. Research gives knowledge, and knowledge saves lives. We applaud Congress for finally providing the critical funding we have been requesting. This will support public health research that is essential to answering questions about the best ways to reduce the morbidity and mortality from firearms in the United States.”

Stephanie Bonne, MD, FACS, co-director of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force of the American Medical Women’s Association:

“The American Medical Women’s Association recognizes that gun violence affects our patients and the members of our organization. As doctors, we strongly recommend the federal funding of high quality research into solutions to this public health crisis.”

Oliver T. Brooks, MD, president of the National Medical Association:

“It is only through gun violence research that we can enact evidence-based solutions. The National Medical Association is excited about the inclusion of the research funding portion of the FY20 appropriations bill. Support gun violence research!”

Isaiah Cochran, MD, national president of the American Medical Student Association:

“The American Medical Student Association was elated to learn that Congress included funding for research into our country’s epidemic of gun violence for the first time in over 20 years. As medical students we are taught that to solve a problem we must first understand it. As a community of future physicians, we recognize the importance of evidence-based solutions in counteracting this public health crisis. AMSA applauds Congress for taking this important first step towards protecting families and communities from preventable firearm injuries.”

Richard Hamburg, executive director of the Safe States Alliance:

“Safe States Alliance applauds Congressional leaders for making firearm research a priority. Strong, insightful research provides important insights into how to prevent firearm injuries and deaths, particularly among our nation’s most vulnerable populations and is critical to inform sound, comprehensive policy.”

Vincent Lafronza, president and CEO of the National Network of Public Health Institutes:

“Public health is about what we do as a society to ensure the conditions in which all people can be healthy. This means that all people have the right to live a healthy life, a life that includes protection from violence. NNPHI stands ready to collaborate with CDC and others to build a strong evidence base that prioritizes firearm injury prevention.”

Justin Lowenthal, board member at Doctors for America and chair of National Steering Committee on Gun Violence Prevention:

“Doctors for America is proud to have fought along with so many advocates and individuals to ensure funding for gun violence research. Physicians and health workers everywhere know the importance of funding for research into causes of and solutions to gun violence; this research is vital to promoting policies that ensure the safety and health of our patients and communities. We are grateful for all the physicians, medical students, and other advocates that reached out to their elected officials to demand that funds be provided to research gun violence prevention and treat gun violence like any other public health epidemic.”

Lucinda Maine, executive vice president and CEO of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy:

“The AACP Board of Directors and members have expressed their opinion that additional funding for research must be a priority for the federal government. We welcome the news regarding the inclusion of funds in the FY20 proposal.”

Robert McLean, MD, MACP, president of the American College of Physicians:

“The American College of Physicians is pleased to see that the funding bill moving forward in Congress includes money for research into firearms safety and gun violence prevention. Gun violence is a public health crisis and research is essential to addressing this epidemic. Physicians regularly come face-to-face with the tragedy that gun violence brings, whether maliciously or unintentionally. The alarming rate of injuries and deaths related to firearms brings to light the glaring lack of research and data. For over twenty years, we’ve desperately needed up-to-date research about firearm violence and intervention and prevention strategies to reduce physical as well as emotional injuries caused by firearms.”

Susie McLean, MD, director of legislative affairs at SAFE – Scrubs Addressing the Firearm Epidemic:

“Federal funding of research on cancer, motor vehicle crashes and countless other health hazards has improved the health of our great nation. We are so pleased that Congress is ready and willing to apply similar attention and funding to reduce firearm injuries.”

Joseph Sakran, MD, founder of This Is Our Lane:

“The funding of firearm injury prevention research is mission critical to providing data driven solutions to our policy makers that will make communities safer. While $25 million is a great start, it pales in comparison to the amount needed to address this public health problem.”

About Gun Violence Research:

Following a 1993 CDC-funded study that found individuals with a gun in the home are 2.7 times more likely to become homicide victims, Congress moved to strip CDC’s firearms research budget. Since then, federal investment in gun violence research has remained virtually absent at the nation’s premier institution for public health, despite gun deaths rising for the past three years to nearly 40,000 people in 2017.

In the 116th Congress, CDC and Trump administration officials have expressed CDC’s willingness and ability to restart this research, with CDC director Robert Redfield stating that his team is “poised to do the research in this area if Congress chooses to appropriate the funding.” In June 2019, the House of Representatives did just that, approving $50 million in dedicated funding to research America’s gun violence crisis.

Related Resources:

 Fact Sheet: Funding Federal Gun Violence Research

 Blog Post: The House Held a Hearing on Gun Violence Research. That’s Big News.

 Letter: Giffords, 14 Health Organizations Urge Action on Gun Violence Research

 Letter: Giffords, 18 Leading Medical and Public Health Organizations Call on Senate Leadership to Appropriate Funding for Gun Violence Research

 Op-Ed: Government Resources Matter — Lift the Ban on Gun Violence Research