The CDC Can (and Does) Research Firearms & Gun Deaths
Ever heard that the government can't study guns? Turns out, the government can, and does, study firearms.
It is a widely believed myth that the US Government is not allowed to perform research on “gun violence,” particularly that the CDC cannot research guns. This myth is repeatedly stated by anti-gun politicians and anti-gun advocates. These anti-gun advocates say things like “The NRA has blocked gun violence research for 20 years. Let’s end its stranglehold on science.” How the anti-gun advocates are able to keep pushing this myth is beyond me, people believing the myth is even more astounding.
The real law about gun studies
“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.” – Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act of 1997
Nowhere in that does it say the CDC cannot study firearms. Nowhere does it say the CDC cannot study gun deaths. Nowhere does it say the CDC cannot study gun violence. Nowhere does it say the CDC cannot study violent crime.
The law states the CDC cannot “advocate or promote gun control.” To me, that makes sense. The government cannot advocate or promote something that infringes on a constitutional right. If there was a law that says the CDC cannot “advocate or promote the restriction of free speech” no one would bat an eye. But the anti-gun movement has taken this law and used it to say something completely wrong.
That section of the Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act of 1997 was put into place because of the following statement from 1989 by the Acting Section Head of Division of Injury Control of the CDC.
“We’re going to systematically build a case that owning firearms causes deaths. We’re doing the most we can do, given the political realities.” – P.W. O’Carroll, Acting Section Head of Division of Injury Control, CDC (source)
And in 1917 the leadership within the CDC had an objective:
“The objective has broadened so that it now includes banning and confiscation of all handguns, restrictive licensing of owners of other firearms, and eventual elimination of firearms from American life, excepting (perhaps) only a small elite of extremely wealthy collectors, hunters, or target shooters.” (source)
To put it bluntly, entities within the CDC had stated they want to remove firearms from American life, except for the “small elite.” Firearms in the hands of the elite is the exact opposite of how America was founded. America was founded because the population used their own blood, sweat, tears, and personal firearms to rebel against the most powerful military at the time.
It is also completely backwards to state a goal and then go seek out data to support that goal. An organization dedicated to studying data needs to observe the data first, and then come to conclusions based on that data. The CDC should not decide to push gun control, and then come up with studies to support that push. The CDC should conduct studies on “gun violence” and then present the findings to the American people.
These efforts from the CDC are why Congress, not the NRA, blocked the CDC from promoting “gun control” – which did not ban the CDC from studying “gun violence.”
The CDC was never banned from studying guns, gun deaths, gun violence, or any other bit of data surrounding guns and violent crime.
The NRA’s actual stance on firearms studies
People use the passage of the Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act of 1997 to claim the NRA does not want CDC studies conducted on “gun violence” – which is another lie. Here’s an actual statement from the NRA on gun studies.
Let’s be clear, the National Rifle Association is not opposed to research that would encourage the safe and responsible use of firearms and reduce the numbers of firearm-related deaths.” – Chris Cox, executive director of the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action (source)
Examples of US Government gun studies
Despite reading the actual law concerning gun studies and the CDC or the government, some people still claim the government and the CDC can’t study “gun violence” or guns. So let’s further disprove the myth that the government is blocked from studying firearms deaths. Let’s look at a list of some actual studies from the US Government (including the CDC) about guns, gun deaths, “gun violence,” and violent crime. There are quite a few gun related studies over the years by the US government and the CDC.
- Firearm Homicides and Suicides in Major Metropolitan Areas — United States, 2006–2007 and 2009–2010
- Elevated Rates of Urban Firearm Violence and Opportunities for Prevention—Wilmington, Delaware Final Report
- Priorities for Research to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-Related Violence (this is the study commissioned by Obama that was supposed to be the “Executive Order the NRA Should Fear the Most”)
- Noise and Lead Exposures at an Outdoor Firing Range ─ California
- Increase in Suicide in the United States, 1999–2014
- FBI Annual Uniform Crime Reporting
- A Study of Active Shooter Incidents in the United States Between 2000 and 2013
- Updated Assessment of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban: Impacts on Gun Markets and Gun Violence, 1994-2003
- Firearm Use by Offenders
- Background Checks for Firearm Transfers, 2013-2014
- Background Checks for Firearm Transfers, 2012
- Firearm Violence, 1993-2011
- Background Checks for Firearm Transfers, 2010
- Firearms Stolen during Household Burglaries and Other Property Crimes, 2005-2010
- Background Checks for Firearm Transfers, 2009
- National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS)
- Federal Firearms Cases, FY 2008
- Background Checks for Firearm Transfers, 2008
- Background Checks for Firearm Transfers, 2007
- Background Checks for Firearm Transfers, 2006
- Background Checks for Firearm Transfers, 2005
- Survey of State Procedures Related to Firearm Sales, 2005
- Federal Law Enforcement Officers, 2004
- Background Checks for Firearm Transfers, 2004
- Survey of State Procedures Related to Firearm Sales, Midyear 2004
- Background Checks for Firearm Transfers, 2003: Trends for the Permanent Brady Period, 1999-2003
- Survey of State Procedures Related to Firearm Sales, Midyear 2003
- Background Checks for Firearm Transfers, 2002
- Weapon Use and Violent Crime, 1993-2001
- Federal Law Enforcement Officers, 2002
- Improving Criminal History Records for Background Checks: National Criminal History Improvement Program (NCHIP)
- Survey of State Procedures Related to Firearm Sales, Midyear 2002
- Survey of State Procedures Related to Firearm Sales, Midyear 2001
- Firearm Use by Offenders
- Federal Law Enforcement Officers, 2000
- Survey of State Procedures Related to Firearm Sales, Midyear 2000
- Firearm Injury and Death from Crime, 1993-97
- Survey of State Procedures Related to Firearm Sales, Midyear 1999
- Presale Handgun Checks, the Brady Interim Period, 1994-98
- Carjackings in the United States, 1992-96
- Survey of State Procedures Related to Firearm Sales, 1997
- Presale Handgun Checks, 1997
- Firearm-related Statutes, 1996: Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, and South Dakota
- Federal Law Enforcement Officers, 1996
- Survey of State Procedures Related to Firearm Sales, 1996
- Presale Firearm Checks
- Domestic Violence in Florida, 1994 and 1995
- Weapons Offenses and Offenders–Firearms, Crime, and Criminal Justice: Selected Findings
- Guns Used in Crime: Firearms, Crime, and Criminal Justice
- Federal Firearms-Related Offenses: Federal Offenses and Offenders
- Survey of Criminal History Information Systems, 1993, with Supplementary Information on Presale Firearms Checks, 1994
- Survey of Criminal History Information Systems, 1993, With Supplementary Information on Presale Firearm Checks, 1994
- Firearms and Crimes of Violence: Selected Findings From National Statistical Series
- Violent Crime in the United States
- Toy Guns: Involvement in Crime and Encounters with Police
- Identifying Persons, Other Than Felons, Ineligible to Purchase Firearms: A Feasibility Study
That isn’t even a comprehensive list of all of the government studies on firearms and firearms related topics, it’s just a sampling of studies.
I don’t know about you, but that’s a lot of studies and statistics about firearms directly from the US Government.
The US government can (and does) research firearms
There are a plethora of studies about firearms, “gun violence,” firearm related deaths, and similar topics provided to us from the US Government, including the CDC. Why haven’t these government backed gun studies been mentioned by the anti-gun movement even though they beg for government backed gun studies?
I’m going to guess they don’t like the results of these studies, so they ignore them.
Written by Brian Purkiss - always a student, sometimes a teacher.
I don't consider myself a competition shooter - I think of myself as a performance pistol shooter. I am all about performing at as high of a level as possible. Towards that end, I am obsessive about learning how to perform. I spend a lot of my life learning from the best across the entire firearms world and even into other areas of performance and other sports. I am a USPSA Carry Optics Grandmaster, currently working towards my second GM title in the Open division.