Conservative Congressman Has Gun Amendment Regrets
This is an important post and equally important is how it’s interpreted. The writer is pro firearm, and anti-violence. Guns have their proper use, but only in the hands of responsible people. We have a serious problem that needs attention.
Nearly 20 years ago, former Congressman Jay Dickey gave his name to an amendment that even today, defines the country’s gun policy. However, he has regrets, as he says he carries a responsibility for the lack of progress of improving current policies. Instead, he says he wishes that proper research, which this amendment stopped, would have continued. In fact, Dickey goes as far as to say the law was over-interpreted over the years, and wonders if the research continued, if there would have already been a solution to modern gun violence.
Dickey is not the only conservative who supports gun research. Others, such as Ben Carson, have joined liberals, such as Hillary Clinton, in saying they would and could support this type of research. However, gun rights groups state that this type of policy reversal would be a waste of money, since there is no non-government research available. If there is no research, it is difficult to make any suggestions for policy reform.
After the 2012 Newtown shooting, lawmakers started to take another look at the Dickey amendment, and President Obama asked federal agencies to start interpreting the law literally, which opens the doors for more research. However, agencies that could start this research, such as the CDC, is hesitant, as it has limited resources and a possible fear of political backlash, which it could get as the center flags any study having to do with firearms for the NRA, according to the New York Times.
Other federal agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health, do not seem as intimidated, and the organization is actively funding grants for those who are studying firearms and their affect on public health. Experts, however, worry that this is not enough. Though this funding is a good thing to people who have been in firearms research for several years, more than 20 years of research time is lost.
The restriction of funding isn’t the only issue standing in the way of more gun research, however. There is a large movement that is seeking to remove science from all gun policy. Currently, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives cannot keep any registry of gun transactions and the organization cannot distribute any of its data. This makes it difficult to figure out a sensible policy.
Pro-gun groups are unwavering, however, and they put in a lot of effort to ensure that existing data is retained and that new research is not taken on. As reported, the NRA, for example, it is said has defended their stance on restricting CDC funding and has even lobbied for more bans. There is also a provision in the Affordable Care Act that restricts doctors from asking about patients’ gun use.
So what does this mean? Right now, there are more lawmakers who are willing to do the bidding of the gun lobby than those who are not, and this comes down to dollars and cents. Back in 1996 after the Dickey amendment was passed, research from Knight Ridder analyzed the vote. They found that approximately 3/4 of those who backed the law received about $1.6 million collectively from the NRA in that calendar year. Only six of the 158 opposing members had received support from the NRA.
You may be wondering what happened to Dickey. Though he was the NRA’s point man from 1993 to 2000, he left congress before he publically changed his stance on gun research. When he finally did, in 2012, he urged those in congress to evolve their stance on gun research now before more lives are lost.