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Federal grants by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) are being weaponized to attack our Second Amendment rights under the guise of “public health” research. Last year, gun owners learned exactly what the so-called “public health treatment” for “gun violence” is when Governor Grisham banned self-defense in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

But the anti-gunners didn’t only think up this public health approach to gun control last year, this is something GOA has been fighting in Washington, D.C. since the early 1990’s. Back in the day, GOA helped expose a 1993 CDC “study” which blatantly recommended a national gun purchase registry and criminalization of possession of unregistered handguns.[i] Around the same time a CDC spokesman Dr. Mark Rosenberg made a famously tyrannical comment that:

“We need to revolutionize the way we look at guns, like what we did with cigarettes … It used to be that smoking was a glamour symbol—cool, sexy, macho. Now it is dirty, deadly—and banned.”[ii]

This led to the creation of what was known as the “Dickey Amendment”—which has been included in every government funding bill since 1994. It’s very simple: “None of the funds made available in this title may be used, in whole or in part, to advocate or promote gun control.” Today, the Centers for Disease Control interprets the Dickey Amendment language: “to mean that CDC’s funds may not be spent on political action or other activities designed to affect the passage of specific Federal, State, or local legislation intended to restrict or control the purchase or use of firearms.”[iii]

Yet, the federal government has been ignoring Congress for some time now. President Obama signed an executive order calling “gun violence” a “serious public health issue,” directing the CDC to fund research on gun violence, causes and prevention.[iv] So CDC spent $10 million to begin conducting “[r]esearch on risk and protective factors will identify factors associated with accessing and carrying guns [and] evaluate the potential health risk and benefits of having a firearm in the home.”[v] Also, during the Fix NICS debacle in 2018, Congress gave more money to help circumvent the Dickey Amendment. Ever since, Congress has been throwing tax dollars at gun control research, but it is called “Firearm Injury and Mortality Prevention Research.”

In Nancy Pelosi’s Fiscal Year 2023 government funding bill there was a total of $60 million in gun control research funding.[vi] This year, Republicans didn’t include any of this funding in the House CDC and NIH funding—which is strong.[vii] On the other hand, Senate appropriators—Republican and Democrat alike—included a total of $25 million in gun control research funding split between NIH and CDC evenly.[viii]Biden’s 2025 budget proposal calls for an additional $60 million for gun control research, so unless conservatives fight now there is no end in sight.[ix]

And Congress cannot forget that Joe Biden’s “CDC removed stats on defensive gun use under intense pressure from gun control lobbyists” CDC’s website had a page with statistics from CDC-commissioned studies showing that defensive gun use occur between 60,000 and 2.5 million times per year.[x] But emails obtained and published by The Reload show that references to that study were deleted from the site following private meetings with gun control advocates in 2021.[xi] Here’s a quote from one of those anti-rights activists:

“[T]hat 2.5 Million number needs to be killed, buried, dug up, killed again and buried again,” Mark Bryant, executive director of the Gun Violence Archive, wrote to the CDC in one of the emails. “It is highly misleading, is used out of context and I honestly believe it has zero value — even as an outlier point in honest DGU discussions.”

According to a Freedom of information act request, this was the result of Senator Dick Durbin connecting gun control activists with White House staffers who pressured CDC bureaucrats into taking down the self-defense statistics. CDC and NIH are absolutely out of control attacking our constitutional rights. We cannot just wait idly for the anti-gunners to release their gun control studies—anti-gun media are going to run with these biased unscientific studies and the politicians are going to misuse them to promote and advocate for gun control. GOA urges Congress to cut CDC and NIH gun control research funds completely out of any upcoming funding bill.

[i] Kellermann, A.L., Rivara, F.P., Rushforth, N.B., Banton, J. G., Reay, D.T., Francisco, J.T., Locci, A.B., Prodzinski, J., Hackman, B.B., & Somes, G. (1993). Gun Ownership As A Risk Factor For Homicide In The Home. New England Journal of Medicine, 329(15), 1084-1091. https://doi.org/10.1056/nejm199310073291506

[ii] Butterfield, Fox. (October 16, 1994). New Tactics Used in Fight Against CrimeThe New York Times.

[iii] Additional Requirement – 13: Prohibition on Use of CDC Funds For Certain Gun Control ActivitiesCenters For Disease Control and Prevention.

[iv] Office Of the Press Secretary. January 16, 2023. Memorandum: “Engaging in Public Health Research on the Causes and Prevention of Gun Violence.” The White House.

[v] Office of Justice Programs. June 2013. Priorities For Research To Reduce The Threat of Firearm-Related Violence. United States Department of Justice.

[vi] Johnston, A. December 21,2022. GOA Fact Sheet – Gun Control Problems With FY2023 Omnibus AppropriationsGun Owners of America.

[vii] Committee on Appropriations. July 13,2023. Fiscal Year 2024, Labor, Health and Human Resources, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill Top Line Messaging.  United States House of Representatives.

[viii] Hon. Tammy Baldwin. July 27, 2023. Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, 2024United States Senate Committee on Appropriations.

[ix] Office of Management and Budget. 2024. Budget of the U.S. Government. Page 82. The White House.

[x] Hagstrom, A. December 15, 2022. CDC Removed Stats on Defensive Gun Use Over Pressure From Gun Control Activists: Report. Fox News.

[xi] Gutowski, S. December 15, 2022. Emails Show CDC Removed Defensive Gun Use Stats After Gun-Control Advocates Pressured Officials In Private Meeting. The Reload.

Article by Aidan Johnston


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