Medical Organizations Demand Trump, Congress Restore CDC Research Funds for Gun Violence

February 20, 2018

In the aftermath of the mass shooting at a Florida high school last week that killed 17 students and adults, 6 medical organizations are calling on President Trump and Congress to treat gun violence as a national public health epidemic amid a press report that attitudes are loosening on Capitol Hill about putting more research money into the issue.

In the aftermath of the mass shooting at a Florida high school last week that killed 17 students and adults, 6 medical organizations are calling on President Donald Trump and Congress to treat gun violence as a national public health epidemic amid a press report that attitudes are loosening on Capitol Hill about putting more research money into the issue.

The statement, issued Friday, came from the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Physicians, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Osteopathic Association, and the American Psychiatric Association. Collectively, they represent 450,000 physicians and medical students.

The organizations are asking for the funding of “appropriate research at the [CDC] as part of the FY 2018 omnibus spending package.” They also are calling for gun control measures on assault rifles, or “large-capacity magazines and firearms with features designed to increase their rapid and extended killing capacity.”

The American Medical Association has also called for action in Washington, DC, about gun violence as a public health issue.

Last week, HHS Secretary Alex Azar said he would be open to the CDC researching the causes of gun violence. The Hill on Monday reported that some House Republicans were supportive of his remarks, including Reps. Leonard Lance (New Jersey), Phil Roe (Tennessee), Mark Walker (North Carolina), and Bob Goodlatte (Virginia).

The current restrictions were put in place as part of a federal spending bill in 1996 after lobbying by groups like the National Rifle Association. The provision states that "None of the funds made available in this title may be used, in whole or in part, to advocate or promote gun control.”

Azar said last week that it was only the advocacy part of the provision he was opposed to.

The Hill reported that although the wording does not explicitly ban research into gun violence, Democrats and some public health researchers argue that it has had the same chilling effect on such research for over 20 years.