Tue Jan 15, 2013, 12:46 PM
onehandle (51,025 posts)
The Executive Order the NRA Should Fear the Most
President Obama is looking at issuing 19 executive actions on gun control, and while gun enthusiasts fear a gun ban that can't happen by executive order, there is one proposal that should make the gun lobby plenty nervous: allow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to research gun violence. The possibilities to emerge from Vice President Joe Biden's gun commission, as The New York Times catalogs them, appear to mostly involve steps like more background checks on gun buyers or making it easier for federal agencies to share mental health and gun records. They are mostly small ways that Obama can, without needing Congressional approval, keep bad guys from getting guns. But there's one very big, and potentially momentous measure that Obama can achieve with an executive order: by allowing the CDC to conduct research on guns, we'd know more about what happens when good guys have guns.
Despite the fears of some genuine gun nuts threatening civil war, Obama can't issue a gun-grabbing executive order. An assault weapons ban would have to go through Congress. Biden's proposals will mostly involve better enforcement of existing laws, which are supposed to keep legal guns out of the hands of criminals. Which is popular! No one wants bad guys to have guns. Bad guys do bad things with guns. But what the gun lobby wants is more good guys -- normal average citizens like teachers and movie theater patrons -- to have more guns. That is why it has been fighting since the mid-1990s to block any science that might show the costs of lots of good guys having lots of guns might outweigh the benefits.
In 1996, some members of Congress tried to completely defund the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, which was doing gun research, Live Science explains. Instead, lawmakers stripped $2.6 million from the CDC's budget -- the exact amount it had spent on gun injury research the year before. Congress forbade research that might "advocate or promote gun control." In 2003, Kansas Rep. Todd Tiahrt forbid the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from giving researchers data about guns used in crime. Last year, the National Institutes of Health was blocked from funding gun research. The efforts have had impressive results. According to a letter to Biden signed by 100 researchers, The NIH has funded just three studies on gun injuries in the last 40 years. Hey, that's three whole studies, right? Hardly censorship! Well, the researchers point out that guns have killed 4 million people since 1973, while four infections diseases have killed just 2,000 -- and the NIH has funded almost 500 studies on them. The letter protests that "legislative language has the effect of discouraging the funding of well-crafted scientific studies."
Gun control advocates want to change the debate in a different way. Existing laws wouldn't have stopped the Newtown shooting, because Adam Lanza's weapons wer purchased legally by his mom. She was theoretically a good guy -- a regular, law-abiding citizen -- with a gun. According to several national polls, the shooting has increased the public's desire for gun control, including an assault weapon ban. But most people who are killed by guns aren't killed in a mass shooting or with a military-style rifle. The NRA has an incentive to limit how much the public knows about how guns affect average anonymous people. Science and knowledge can be very powerful. Just ask the tobacco companies.
4 replies, 1617 views
The Executive Order the NRA Should Fear the Most (Original post)
|Electric Monk||Jan 2013||#1|
Response to onehandle (Original post)
Tue Jan 15, 2013, 01:36 PM
Indydem (2,586 posts)
2. I am confused how this can be done?
If there is legislation on the books forbidding such research, the President can't just ignore it by issuing an executive order.
I will be interested to see how that goes.
Also, if the research is performed fairly and stands up to scrutiny and peer review, I will be interested to see what they find.
Response to Indydem (Reply #2)
Tue Jan 15, 2013, 03:34 PM
synapticwave (52 posts)
3. I'm also confused by this
But I think what is being suggested is that Obama give the NIH an executive order to do the research. The 1996 amendment only prohibited the CDC from doing the research, so PBO could still issue an order to the NIH to do the research within the law.
Response to Indydem (Reply #2)
Tue Jan 15, 2013, 04:20 PM
radhika (931 posts)
4. I'm confused too - I'm trying to imagine work-arounds that might be used....
Until this article, I didn't even KNOW that CDC was blocked from studying this. No surprise, but it still opened my eyes. In a nation that legally prevents its largest public health system from negotiating the best Rx prices...where does the madness stop!
If the figure quoted for a study - $2.6M - is enough for a credible peer-reviewed study, perhaps a non-profit or think tank could come up with that sum. Or a group of sums. This would side-step going to Congress for the funds. Like the Gates or Buffett Foundations.
As to Congress blocking researchers from access to gun death info, it seems to block only the ATF. Do federal and state HHS keep that factor in their mortality statistics? Might be better to do this at the state level since gun laws vary state-to-state.