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Sun Dec 23, 2012, 01:19 PM

Silencing the Science on Gun Research

Silencing the Science on Gun Research
Arthur L. Kellermann, MD, MPH; Frederick P. Rivara, MD, MPH


The nation might be in a better position to act if medical and public health researchers had continued to study these issues as diligently as some of us did between 1985 and 1997. But in 1996, pro-gun members of Congress mounted an all-out effort to eliminate the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Although they failed to defund the center, the House of Representatives removed $2.6 million from the CDC's budget—precisely the amount the agency had spent on firearm injury research the previous year. Funding was restored in joint conference committee, but the money was earmarked for traumatic brain injury. The effect was sharply reduced support for firearm injury research.

To ensure that the CDC and its grantees got the message, the following language was added to the final appropriation: “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.”4

Precisely what was or was not permitted under the clause was unclear. But no federal employee was willing to risk his or her career or the agency's funding to find out. Extramural support for firearm injury prevention research quickly dried up. Even today, 17 years after this legislative action, the CDC's website lacks specific links to information about preventing firearm-related violence.

When other agencies funded high-quality research, similar action was taken. In 2009, Branas et al published the results of a case-control study that examined whether carrying a gun increases or decreases the risk of firearm assault. In contrast to earlier research, this particular study was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Two years later, Congress extended the restrictive language it had previously applied to the CDC to all Department of Health and Human Services agencies, including the National Institutes of Health.

These are not the only efforts to keep important health information from the public and patients. For example, in 1997, Cummings et al used state-level data from Washington to study the association between purchase of a handgun and the subsequent risk of homicide or suicide. Similar studies could not be conducted today because Washington State's firearm registration files are no longer accessible.



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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Sun Dec 23, 2012, 01:24 PM

1. Doing their fould master's bidding for $$$. Every last one of them has blood on his hands.


If only those vile fuckers were the ones to reap the tragedy they've sown.

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Sun Dec 23, 2012, 02:29 PM

2. With selected data will CDC find different results than its last comprehensive, exhaustive report?


"First Reports Evaluating the Effectiveness of Strategies for Preventing Violence: Firearms Laws, Findings from the Task Force on Community Preventive Services"


During 2000--2002, the Task Force on Community Preventive Services (the Task Force), an independent nonfederal task force, conducted a systematic review of scientific evidence regarding the effectiveness of firearms laws in preventing violence, including violent crimes, suicide, and unintentional injury. The following laws were evaluated: bans on specified firearms or ammunition, restrictions on firearm acquisition, waiting periods for firearm acquisition, firearm registration and licensing of firearm owners, "shall issue" concealed weapon carry laws, child access prevention laws, zero tolerance laws for firearms in schools, and combinations of firearms laws. The Task Force found insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of any of the firearms laws or combinations of laws reviewed on violent outcomes. (Note that insufficient evidence to determine effectiveness should not be interpreted as evidence of ineffectiveness.) This report briefly describes how the reviews were conducted, summarizes the Task Force findings, and provides information regarding needs for future research.

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Response to jody (Reply #2)

Sun Dec 23, 2012, 04:16 PM

3. If the CDC isn't allowed to compile certain info, I don't

know how this report could be considered comprehensive or exhaustive. Seems you don't have a problem with certain 'facts' that apparently remain unavailable to certain agencies.

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Response to babylonsister (Reply #3)

Sun Dec 23, 2012, 04:37 PM

5. I'm a scientist. Please provide a link to anyone with a proposal to test a hypothesis like


Ho: Guns cause crime
Ha: Guns don't cause crime

That's what NAS could have meant "Drawing causal inferences is always complicated and, in the behavioral and social sciences, fraught with uncertainty. Some of the problems that the committee identifies are common to all social science research. In the case of firearms research, however, the committee found that even in areas in which the data are potentially useful, the complex methodological problems inherent in unraveling causal relationships between firearms policy and violence have not been fully considered or adequately addressed."

What emerges is someone wants to collect lots and lots of data, then keep selecting different variables and crunching numbers with every available statistical tool until someone shouts "BINGO".

Sorry but that's not credible research since it skipped over the proposal stage that any PhD had drilled into them before they were allowed to begin their dissertation.

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Response to jody (Reply #5)

Sun Dec 23, 2012, 04:48 PM

7. Actually, there is credible research on gun violence in peer reviewed journals.

The fact that you can't conceive of such a thing doesn't mean it doesn't exist. What is difficult is drawing conclusive causal inferences about the results of specific policies on rates of gun violence. But that is an inherent difficulty in social sciences, because there are multiple causes and effects. Particularly when it comes to gun violence in the US -- because guns can be transported fairly easily from one state to another, the effects of policies in one state or city can be undercut by lax laws in neighboring states.

But that doesn't mean that there aren't many credible studies, and that we can't say anything at all about gun policy that is informed by science. One of the facts that has been established repeatedly, at the international level, as well among states and counties, is that higher gun ownership rates result in higher homicide rates. Here are a few studies to look at.

The NAS's basic conclusion is that more research should be done. It was not, as you suggest, that there's no way to do credible research into gun violence. But the gun lobby went and got the research funding shut down. Wonder what they are afraid of.

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Response to DanTex (Reply #7)

Sun Dec 23, 2012, 05:06 PM

8. LOL at you hijacking OP which was about DATA TO BE COLLECTED. That hoped for data could not have


been used by the articles at your links.

Moreover research proposals for those articles could not have included the DATA TO BE COLLECTED asked for in the OP.

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Response to jody (Reply #8)

Sun Dec 23, 2012, 05:10 PM

9. What are you talking about?

It wasn't only about data. It was generally about efforts of the gun lobby to stifle research into gun violence. And my point is that, yes, it is possible to test hypotheses related to gun policy.

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Response to DanTex (Reply #9)

Sun Dec 23, 2012, 05:28 PM

10. Research is about data and research on social issues is ALL ABOUT DATA. Many reports have been


published using available data among which is FBI's Uniform Crime Report.

DoJ has the authority to collect data on crime and support research about the causes of crime.

If anyone has new ideas about collecting new data to prove "guns cause crime", they should demand Attorney General Holder start collecting that data so we can finally satisfy the believers.

Notice I didn't need to use CDC at all above because they aren't needed.

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Response to jody (Reply #10)

Sun Dec 23, 2012, 05:45 PM

11. You are rambling on senselessly.

I'm not sure what your point is. Mine is that there is credible research on gun violence, for example, the studies I linked to. However, the gun lobby is doing its best to prevent more research from being done, both by cutting off funding and also trying to thwart data collection.

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