Gun Violence Epidemic is Not Inevitable

It’s Not Rocket Science

Marian Wright Edelman | 11/6/2013, 12:27 p.m.
Marian Wright Edelman tackles the issue of gun violence in America.
Marian Wright Edelman

These were extraordinary findings that bringing a gun into your home increases the risk that someone in your home will die from a gun. . . . these research findings have been replicated again and again in many studies. So they’re not something that we question. This is the truth.”

This research was not well received by the gun lobby, and Dr. Rosenberg says they started a campaign to get rid of the whole gun violence prevention research agenda. The NRA successfully lobbied their allies in Congress to stop the CDC’s gun violence prevention research funding. As a result funding for gun violence prevention research at the CDC fell from an average of $2.5 million per year in 1993-1996 to half that in 1997-2000.

Two decades later, the CDC is spending just $100,000 per year on gun violence prevention research. Meanwhile we are spending 2,500 times that amount on research to prevent traffic fatalities, even though traffic accidents and guns kill a similar number of people every year. We must not let this continue to happen.

The President has requested that Congress authorize $10 million for gun violence prevention research at the CDC, and another $20 million to set up a nationwide system to better track gun deaths. This would still be only a tenth of what we are spending on traffic deaths, but it would be a vast improvement over where we are right now.

Dr. Rosenberg also said: “There’s this sense of fatalism that people sometimes have, and you say, ‘Oh, there’s 300 million guns out there in the country. The problem is so big, there is nothing we can do about it, and besides, we’ve lived with violence from the beginnings of mankind. It’s just out there’. . . But we’ve learned that violence is not ‘just evil,’ but violence is specific types of problems: child abuse, child neglect, dating violence, youth violence, intimate partner violence and gender-based violence, rape and sexual assault, child sexual abuse, elder abuse, and suicide. Violence is a set of specific problems.”

Our nation’s gun violence epidemic is not inevitable. Scholars must be allowed to do the desperately needed scientific research that will help parents, policymakers and the public determine how we can all work together to stop it. The NRA cannot be allowed to continue to block the truth at the cost of so many lives.

Marian Wright Edelman is president of the Children’s Defense Fund.