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NRA-ILA | A Closer Look at Federal Funding for “Gun Violence” Research
“As a major cause of death in the U.S., gun violence is chronically under-researched.” So goes the refrain from the gun-control chorus. It’s a catchy tune, especially among those who think that the answer is greater government – and taxpayer – involvement:
“’If you think of firearms deaths along the lines of traffic crashes and smoking, you think about a really big project,’ [RAND Corporation’s Andrew Morral] said. ‘I think of this as a large effort of a magnitude that only the federal government would be able to support.’”
For example, in April the House Appropriations Committee released a Democrat-backed draft proposal “call[ing] for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health to study firearm injury and mortality prevention.” Price tag: $50 million. Democratic presidential candidates are clamoring for more research, too, with Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), for example, claiming that, after election as president, he’ll “lift a ban on federal funding for gun-violence research” – even though no such ban exists.
The New York Times and other anti-gun media perpetuate the myth that following passage of the Dickey Amendment in 1996 “much of the federal government … largely abandoned efforts to learn why people shoot one another, or themselves, and what can be done to prevent gun violence.” Similarly, RAND’s Morral contends that, “’we have not invested in the research needed to answer the question: What is the trade-off between childhood deaths and self-defense?’”
False equivalency aside, the truth is that the federal government spends tens of millions of dollars annually researching firearms-related injury and death.
To get an idea of how much such research is funded at the federal level, we queried the Federal RePORTER database, which lists allocation and recipient data for grants from 18 federal departments and agencies – a subset of potential funding overall, but a starting point nonetheless. Looking at FY2018 and searching on the phrase gun* or firearm*, we found 86 projects across three entities – the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), and Veterans Administration (VA) – totaling $43 million. Perhaps not as much as some would like, but certainly not representative of “abandoned efforts.”
Still, that strict search definition ignores the fact that firearms violence is a subset of larger phenomena. That is, by definition, gun-related injury or mortality occur in a larger context of homicide, suicide, or other types of violence, or accidents. Research dollars spent on suicide reduction should help reduce firearm suicides and dollars spent on reducing violent crime should help reduce crimes of violence involving firearms. To get a better sense of related research spending, we repeated our query with an expanded string: gun* or firearm* or suicide or homicide or violence. The total was an order of magnitude greater: $464 million, on 1,122 projects across NIH, NSF, VA, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
As these cursory searches demonstrate, federal funding for research to reduce “gun violence” remains robust.
Last, note that these are estimates of federal spending and don’t count the millions spent by state governments – such as the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California, Davis– or programs bankrolled by liberal private-sector interests, like the Bloomberg-funded Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research.
LIBERTY HAS NO EXPIRATION DATEDemocrats wouldn't buy a clue if it was government subsidized.
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