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