WASHINGTON DC – Yesterday, Feb. 15, at a U.S House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar indicated his support for conducting gun violence prevention research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an effort that Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) has long championed.
A 1996 Republican appropriations rider prohibits federal funds from being used to advocate or promote gun control, which some have misconstrued as a ban on funding scientific research into the causes of gun violence.
Secretary Azar said , in response to a question from Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.): “My understanding is that the rider does not in any way impede our ability to conduct our research mission. We’re in the science business and the evidence-generating business, and so I will have our agency certainly working in this field, as they do across the broad spectrum of disease control and prevention.”
Tragically, as a result of the 1996 appropriations rider, policymakers, doctors, counselors, and others lack comprehensive, scientific information about the causes and characteristics of gun violence, or the best strategies to prevent future mass shootings.
“Inexplicably, President Trump did not mention gun violence in his remarks to the country today, but his health secretary did, and Secretary Azar should direct the CDC to immediately begin research on gun violence prevention,” said Senator Markey, in a released statement.
“Nothing should stand in the way of researching the causes of an epidemic that is senselessly taking tens of thousands of lives every year. We can prevent tragedies like in Parkland, like in Newtown, like in Orlando, like in Aurora, and so many other cities across the country. The American people are desperate for action to prevent their communities from becoming the next Parkland, Florida. Taking action on gun violence prevention is not advocacy, it is commonsense. We need better information about what is causing gun violence and what can be done to prevent it, and we should remove any barrier to achieving that life-saving goal,” said Sen. Markey, who represents Framingham in Congress.
“I call on Secretary Azar to commit to what he said today and get our scientists and researchers working now to understand and help end this scourge of gun violence,” said the junior senator from Massachusetts.
Since 2011, Senator Markey has introduced legislation to set aside $60 million to fund gun violence prevention and research at the CDC.
Before his death last year, former Congressman Jay Dickey (R-Ark.), the author of the 1996 appropriations rider, said he supported funding CDC gun violence research and that the rider should not stand in the way of researching the epidemic of gun violence.