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Letter for Saturday, December 23, 2017

Research is always good

Information is today’s most valuable commodity. Many businesses sell no tangible product, only information. Who wouldn’t want information? Well, the NRA and The Garden Island.

In Our View on December 14th, The Garden Island opined that allowing research into the causes and effects of gun violence, which claims over 33,000 American lives (and causes 85,000 injuries) each year, would be a waste of time and money. The editorial was about the Dickey Amendment, enacted as a result of lobbying by the NRA, which since 1996 has prevented the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (expanded since to the entire Department of Health and Human Services) from advocating for gun control. Unfortunately, at the continual urging of the NRA, the language has been interpreted for many years as a ban on research into the causes and effects of gun violence, even though Jay Dickey himself stated he simply “didn’t want dollars to go to gun control advocacy” and later ruefully admitted, “I wish we had started the proper research and kept it going all this time. …”

Reading Our View, you might think the research would be about preventing random mass killings, for which the conclusion that science is unlikely to find a cure perhaps is arguable. But the research desired is also in the areas of youth violence, domestic violence, sexual violence and suicide, all potentially remediable areas.

The Dickey Amendment, as interpreted, is condemned by the American Association for the Advancement of Science and over 140 medical organizations, including Doctors for America, the American Psychological Association, the American College of Preventive Medicine, the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The Our View was like saying that since there will always be bad drivers, it is useless to research the causes of motor vehicle deaths. But research and thinking was done on highway fatalities, and resulted in safer automobiles, mandates for seat belts, airbags, antilock brakes, changes in highway design and lighting, tighter restrictions on driving while intoxicated or distracted, etc. Motor vehicle deaths have declined significantly, although miles driven have increased.

Why shouldn’t we research whether communities are safer when more citizens are armed, or less, or if requiring locked gun safes, or biometric trigger locks, or keeping weapons unloaded, or longer waiting periods for purchasers, open carry laws, a dedicated 3-digit number for suicide prevention, or arming teachers in schools, etc., wouldn’t be effective to lower gun deaths?

Who glorifies ignorance? The NRA adamantly opposes funding any research on causes or cures for firearm violence, and spends millions of lobbying dollars in that effort. It gives lip service to supporting research for reducing gun deaths, but concludes in advance that the goal of any scientific investigation would be “gun control.” To the NRA, knowledge is a threat.

Jed Somit, Kapaa

4 Comments
  1. Steven McMacken December 23, 2017 8:00 am Reply

    A voice of reason. Thank you, Jed.

    I was incredulous at how stupendously naive the editorial writer was. “What would happen if this country’s leaders just asked people to do as the Bible says, and love thy neighbor?” My goodness. This has nothing to do with loving thy neighbor. And saying that “science will not program people to be kind” doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be doing research to study the issue of gun violence in America. Millions and millions of Americans are kind, but it’s that small, but growing, percentage that ISN’T that is causing the enormous amount of violence in this country. Couple that with the easy access to guns we have, and the political clout of the NRA, and is it any wonder why we have the highest murder rate of industrialized countries? The only answer to effectively cut gun violence is GUN CONTROL. And that has been proven over and over and over.


  2. RG DeSoto December 23, 2017 10:03 am Reply

    Jed…and don’t forget that pencils are the cause of bad spelling and grammar.
    Check the statistics. You’ll find that a majority of deaths where a gun is used are suicides.
    The other strange thing you might try to explain: I have a safe with 15-20 rifles and handguns. Oddly, for the past 50 years none of them has ever jumped out, loaded itself and shot me, or anyone else, whenever I’ve opened the safe. I once set one on a table in my house and it stayed there for several hours while I watched TV…weird, it didn’t even move!
    Could it just be that we should be looking at criminals, not guns?
    RG DeSoto


  3. MisterM December 23, 2017 9:22 pm Reply

    Fantastic and devastating rebuttal to such deplorable ignorance. Thank you.


  4. Sunrise_blue December 23, 2017 11:32 pm Reply

    Do you remember a crime scene in 1979, Randal Saito at Ala moana shopping center?

    There were some steps that were followed. 1) He thought about it and consulted 2) He went and talked to the women 3) He took a gun 4) Then he shot her, then stabbed her leaving her to die in the parking lot

    Here was a man who did not like her and went through with the murder. He was sent to the mental hospital and since 1981, he’s been there. Awaiting to be sent back to Hawai’i.

    He has been a patient there since 1981. Guns plus hatred put this guy there for 38 years ago. He stabbed her with a knife. Dead.


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