Framing gun control in terms that invoke medicine, emergency services and public health isn’t just dishonest; it’s ineffective.
That’s why Congress severed gun control program funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s budget in 1997. And it’s why one veteran of that process is now warning against efforts to bring it back.
Timothy Wheeler, M.D., one of three physicians whose 1996 congressional testimony helped end the CDC’s use of federal funds to conduct gun control outreach, warned in a column Monday that Democrats have designs on reviving the practice.
That’s a terrible idea, Wheeler wrote at The Hill. ” [In the 1990s] Congress in fact simply directed the CDC to stop promoting gun control,” he recalled. “To reasonable minds this is not at all controversial. Congress should ignore the tricksters and continue holding the CDC to its mission of objective research, not pushing for gun control.”
Wheeler’s concern stems from a Nov. 20 letter, signed by several congressional Democrats, that calls for a repeal on the long-standing ban on CDC funding for gun control. That letter, penned by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), attempts to lump gun control in with a bevy of federal health initiatives:
We dedicate $240 million a year on traffic safety research, more than $233 million a year on food safety, and $331 million a year on the effects of tobacco, but almost nothing on firearms that kill 33,000 Americans annually. The result is a lack of fundamental research on gun violence, gun safety, and what public policy measures will effectively stem the tide of gun deaths. In 1992 and 1993, the New England Journal of Medicine published studies showing residents in homes with a gun faced a 2.7-fold greater risk of homicide and a 4.8-fold greater risk of suicide — this cannot be our most recent publicly funded gun violence research.
That piece of research, noted Wheeler, was a CDC-funded sensation piece that applied epidemiological research principles to researching deaths involving firearms. It “launched” the career of Arthur Kellermann, M.D., as a “rock star gun control advocate,” according to Wheeler, even though the research methods have since been thoroughly debunked.
“In summary, the CDC funded a flawed study of crime-prone inner city residents who had been murdered in their homes,” he concluded. “The authors then tried to equate this wildly unrepresentative group with typical American gun owners. The [House Labor, Health, Human Services, and Education Appropriations] committee members were not amused.”
That study, it’s worth noting, closely preceded Congress’ decision to cut CDC funding for gun control.
Yet pro-gun control activists in the medical community are renewing their determination to corral the public into viewing firearms as a matter of public health.
“During the American Public Health Association’s annual meeting in early November, health services researcher Judith Katzburg urged doctors to ‘push the agenda’ securing gun control for public health,” Breitbart reported.
In the video below, Katzburg explained: “We are hoping to forge a national coalition of partners to push the agenda of a public health approach to gun violence prevention forward.”
If the renewed push meets with any success at the federal level, gun control activists “could then use that agency to implement new gun regulations unilaterally — without the hindrances of Congress — much as the environmentalists have been able to do with the EPA,” according to the Breitbart report.
Democrats promoting the effort are brazen about meeting that very goal. “Gun violence is a threat to public health, and it’s time to end this ludicrous ban that prevents our nation’s top minds from figuring out how to shield our communities from gun violence,” Speier announced from her congressional Web page.”… This state of affairs cannot continue.”
That’s a heap of urgency, considering that gun sales continue to climb, firearms-related homicide continues to fall and the CDC, absent its coveted gun control funding, has been sitting on the sidelines for the past 20 years.