For almost two decades no federal dollars have been allocated to researching the effects of gun violence. But there are moves afoot to change that.
Calling it a public health emergency, Connecticut’s third district congresswoman Rosa DeLauro said House Democrats want funding to enable the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to conduct research for gun violence prevention.
It would be the first time since the 90’s that Congress has funded such research.
DeLauro said opponents worry the information would be used to take away people’s second amendment rights.
“That is the fear, that it will lead to gun control,” DeLauro said. “And obviously the NRA has had a significant role in helping to perpetrate that.”
DeLauro said they are poised to give the CDC funding in this year’s appropriation bill that could give the agency the ability to study areas like suicide intervention, or the correlation between domestic violence and gun violence.
Dr. Kirsten Bechtel from the pediatric emergency department at Yale-New Haven Children's Hospital said that 20 years ago car crashes killed more people in the U.S. than firearms. But in 2014 deaths from firearms outnumbered those from car crashes.
“The fact that deaths from car crashes and firearms have converged is alarming, because nine in ten households in this country have access to a car, but only about one-third of households have access to a firearm,” Bechtel said.
Brent Peterkin from Project Longevity, an initiative that strives to reduce gun violence in Connecticut’s three major cities, experienced gun violence as a 13-year-old.
He said post traumatic stress disorder is one of many issues that needs to be addressed.
“What happens when a young person shows up to school and has been exposed to gun violence,” Peterkin asked. “What traumatic informed care responses, backed by research, are in place to make sure that that child receives necessary care to make sure that they have a productive life?”
DeLauro didn’t give a dollar amount for the research funding. But she said several national groups are asking for about $50-million. DeLauro said Connecticut had the fifth lowest rate of gun deaths in the nation in 2016, according to the Giffords Law Center, with 170 gun related deaths that year.
She was joined by other experts and advocates at police headquarters in New Haven Monday.