Call for Gun Research Funding Predicated on a Lie

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AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File

The Dickey Amendment never actually prohibited funding for “gun violence” research. What it prohibited was funding for anti-gun efforts. It was the CDC who decided that meant all research, which I’ve always found more than a little telling.

I mean, if you see gun research as pushing for gun control, then you’re not being open to where the data leads. You’re conducting “research” to prove a particular narrative.

Over the years, though, researchers have lamented this lack of federal funding and tried to justify it over and over again. They’re starting to get at least some money, but they’re also proving why they shouldn’t be trusted with that money.

What’s more, it’s not necessarily a lot of money as such things go, which means you’re going to have people still going on about the lack of funds, and clearly, they’re not above lying about it.

More children die from guns than anything else in the United States, but relatively little funding is available to study how to prevent these tragedies.
From 2008 to 2017, about $12 million in federal research awards were granted to study pediatric firearm mortality each year – about $600 per life lost, according to a study published in Health Affairs. Motor vehicle crashes, the leading cause of death among children at the time, received about $26,000 of research funding per death, while funding to study pediatric cancer, the third leading cause of death, topped $195,000 per death.
By 2020, firearm deaths in the US had reached record levels and guns had surpassed car crashes to become the leading cause of death among children. More than 4,300 children and teens died from guns in 2020, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – a 27% jump from 2017, and a number that has only continued to rise. But federal dollars haven’t followed proportionately.
Congress has earmarked about $25 million for firearm injury prevention research each year since 2020, split evenly between the CDC and the National Institutes of Health. Even if all of those dollars were spent on studies focused on pediatric deaths from firearm injury, it’d still be less than $6,000 per death.

Now, let’s review the first paragraph, which lays down the premise of why funding is so important. “More children die from guns than anything else in the United States,” is the claim, and we’ve all heard it over and over again.

The problem? It’s not true.

According to the CDC, the leading cause of death for anyone between the ages of one and 44 is unintentional injury, which does include firearm deaths, but also includes pretty much everything else including slipping and hitting your head on the bathtub. We also know that most of those unintentional injuries aren’t gun-related because the number of unintentional shooting fatalities is known. (For the record, the leading cause of death under the age of one is “Congenital Anomalies.”)

From ages 10 to 14, suicides come in at number two, which probably includes gun suicides, but they’re far less likely than unintentional injuries.

From ages 15-24–yes, that’s how the CDC groups the age categories for some reason–homicides come in number two, but they’re less than half the number of unintentional injuries.

And those are about as close as one could reasonably get to “guns kill more kids than anything.” It’s not even close, even if all of those homicides and suicides are gun-related, and there’s no chance of them all being such.

In other words, the basic, easily available, and easy-to-find data proves that this isn’t the case, that guns aren’t killing kids more than anything else, and yet they keep pushing this lie. Why? Because it’s horrifying.

They want people alarmed. They want us so afraid for our children’s safety that we’ll give them whatever they want. Then they can conduct biased research to “prove” what they started the research to look for, namely reasons we should enact gun control.

But if they’ll lie about this to get the money, how can we trust them not to lie about what they supposedly find?

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