The anti-science gun lobby is a public health threat

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

The Second Amendment allows one to own a gun. It does not contemplate the lobbyists for the merchants of death suppressing scientific research and empirical data to foster ignorance.

I posted about this previously in The NRA hampers any attempt to enforce the laws already on the books. Joan McCarter at Daily Kos reports on the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) article by Arthur Kellermann and Frederick Rivara in response to the Newtown tragedy in How the gun lobby shut down gun violence research:

The Journal of the American Medical Association takes on the gun lobby and the members of Congress who do its bidding.

The nation might be in a better position to act if medical and public health researchers had continued to study these issues as diligently as some of us did between 1985 and 1997. But in 1996, pro-gun members of Congress mounted an all-out effort to eliminate the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Although they failed to defund the center, the House of Representatives removed $2.6 million from the CDC's budget—precisely the amount the agency had spent on firearm injury research the previous year. Funding was restored in joint conference committee, but the money was earmarked for traumatic brain injury. The effect was sharply reduced support for firearm injury research. […]

When other agencies funded high-quality research, similar action was taken. In 2009, Branas et al published the results of a case-control study that examined whether carrying a gun increases or decreases the risk of firearm assault. In contrast to earlier research, this particular study was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Two years later, Congress extended the restrictive language it had previously applied to the CDC to all Department of Health and Human Services agencies, including the National Institutes of Health.

These are not the only efforts to keep important health information from the public and patients. For example, in 1997, Cummings et al used state-level data from Washington to study the association between purchase of a handgun and the subsequent risk of homicide or suicide. Similar studies could not be conducted today because Washington State's firearm registration files are no longer accessible.

The Arizona Daily Star reports today about how the anti-science gun lobby inserted similar language into the Affordable Care Act ("ObamaCare") at the insistence of the paranoid absolutists at the NRA. NRA backed gun provision in health law:

The words were tucked deep into the sprawling text of President Obama's health-care overhaul. Under the headline "Protection of Second Amendment Gun Rights" was a brief provision restricting the ability of doctors to gather data about their patients' gun use – a largely overlooked but significant challenge to a movement in American medicine to treat firearms as a matter of public health.

The language, pushed by the National Rifle Association in the final weeks of the 2010 debate over health care and discovered only in recent days by some lawmakers and medical groups, is drawing criticism in the wake of this month's massacre of 20 children and six educators in Newtown, Conn.

Some public health advocates, worried that the measure will hinder research and medical care, are calling on the White House to amend the language as it prepares to launch a gun-control initiative in January.

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[P]hysician groups and researchers see the provision as part of a decades-long strategy by the gun lobby to choke off federal support for studies into firearms injuries, which may soon overtake motor vehicle accidents as a leading cause of violent deaths in the United States.

The research restrictions began in the 1990s, when the NRA urged Congress to cut funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's division that studied firearms violence. In 1996, Congress sharply limited the agency's ability to fund that type of research.

More limits came last year in a spending bill setting restrictions on the National Institutes of Health after complaints from gun rights advocates about an NIH-backed study drawing links between alcoholism and gun violence.

The provision, added by Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., prohibits the NIH from spending money to "advocate or promote gun control" – language that researchers say does not explicitly forbid studies but sends a signal to research agencies to steer clear.

Public health advocates say the restrictions undercut the ability of the White House and lawmakers to make the case for new laws.

Yes, Let Us Now Bury Our Heads in the Sand and ignore the obvious health care crisis caused by gun violence in this country. It is the anti-science lobbyists for the merchants of death who are a public health threat. These anti-science, anti-research provisions in federal law must be repealed, and scientific empirical research adequately funded to address the health care crisis of gun violence in America.

The merchants of death should no longer be allowed to externalize the societal costs of their product to the taxpaying public to maximize their profits by fostering ignorance and "the theological nature of conservative firearms idolatry," as Ed Kilgore described it. We must stop sacrificing our children to a malignant "gun god."