Reps. Maloney, Cicilline lead 50+ Colleagues in Push to Fund Gun Violence Research

Mar 23, 2016
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) and Congressman David N. Cicilline (RI-01) led 51 of their colleagues to push for funding for the National Violent Death Report System (NVDRS) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and public health research on gun violence. In a letter to the Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, Education, and Related Agencies Chairman Tom Cole and Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro, the 53 members urged public health research investments for the NVRDS and funding for the CDC to research firearm related violence as it interacts with public health. These requests echo President Obama’s initiatives to combat gun violence. The letter can be found here.

“Gun violence is one of the public health crises of our time, and as policymakers we know that better information leads to better policy. Yet for too long the gun lobby and its allies have stood against information, against research” said Rep. Maloney. “While 89 people die every day from gun violence, Congress can no longer afford to play political games with riders or restrictions on life-saving gun violence prevention research and data. I want to make sure that 2016 is the year when this senseless gag order is finally lifted.”

“Over the last decade, more than 300,000 Americans have lost their lives in an incident of gun violence. It’s critical that we devote the resources necessary to better understand how to finally stop this epidemic,” said Congressman Cicilline. “I’m proud to be working with Congresswoman Maloney to request increased funding for the National Violent Death Reporting System and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study the root causes of gun violence in America.”

Rep. Maloney has introduced legislation (H.R. 2612) to fund research at the CDC on gun violence prevention and firearms safety. Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) introduced a companion bill in the Senate.

President Obama has included $10 million for gun violence research and $23.5 million for the National Violent Death Reporting system in the White House budget since the Sandy Hook tragedy as part of the Now is the Time initiative, but Congress needs to appropriate these funds.

Since the mid-1990s, federal funding for gun violence research has almost halted entirely in response to pressure from the pro-gun lobby. As a result, policymakers, doctors, counselors, and others lack comprehensive, scientific information about the causes and characteristics of gun violence, or the best strategies to prevent future tragedies.

At current funding levels, the NVDRS only collects data in 32 states. Additional funding would make this data available for the entire country, so that policymakers can identify trends and evaluate strategies to combat violence.

Full text of the letter can be found below:

Dear Chairman Cole and Ranking Member DeLauro:

As you begin work on the FY 2017 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill, we respectfully urge you to support investments in public health research by including $23.5 million for the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVRDS) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and an additional $10 million in funding for the CDC to research firearm related violence as it interacts with public health.

Currently, the National Violent Death Reporting System collects surveillance data in only 32 states. The data collected helps inform policy makers on trends and characteristics of violent deaths within specific communities so they can design appropriate prevention measures and evaluate ongoing efforts to curb violence. Providing $23.5 million in funding would enable the CDC to scale up this effort to include all 50 states. Every State could benefit from data collected using this important system. 

In addition, gun-related deaths now nearly equal deaths from traffic accidents, but for too long, policymakers have lacked the comprehensive tools to craft an effective response to the public health crisis of gun violence. In June 2013, the Institute of Medicine developed a research agenda on gun violence that can be conducted over the next three to five years, including the characteristics of firearm violence, risk and protective factors, and the impact of gun safety technology. Dedicated funding of $10 million will allow the CDC to begin this important initiative.

Together, these two funding sources will help ensure our country better understands the root causes and potential methods to prevent firearm related deaths. This research accomplishes a number of important goals. First, it helps inform efforts to invest in firearm safety programs, and allows us to better understand whether violent media or entertainment is a cause of gun violence. In addition, comprehensive public health research and data collection can help ensure we better equip mental health professionals with the necessary tools to assess risk-factors for the small minority of patients who may pose a danger to themselves or others.  

According to data compiled by the National Center of Injury Prevention and Control, between 1999 and 2010 firearm related violence claimed the lives of more than 360,000 individuals in the United States, including 35,366 children and teenagers. The Institute of Medicine report from June 2013 said, “by their sheer magnitude, injuries and deaths involving firearms constitute a pressing public health problem.”

Investing in efforts to better collect data and research the root causes of this important public health concern will better inform public servants and the American people on how best to address this epidemic. We respectfully urge you to address this critical problem by investing in the National Violent Death Reporting System and by providing the CDC with the necessary resources to research firearm related violence as it relates to public health in the FY 2017 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill. We appreciate your consideration of this request.