The Institute of Medicine, a bipartisan research group, argues that poor funding has left Americans with many unanswered questions about gun violence. In particular, the IOM points its finger at the National Rifle Association for backing legislation that pulled $2.5 million in funding from the Centers for Disease Control to prevent gun research. The legislation further prevents the CDC from using federal funds to promote gun control causes.
“Basic data about gun possession, distribution, ownership, acquisition, and storage are lacking ... Data that do exist are weak, making it virtually impossible to answer fundamental questions about occurrence and risk factors, or to effectively evaluate programs intended to reduce violence and harm,” reports the IOM.
The IOM hopes to address burning questions about the gun debate. For example, would requiring background checks really stop criminals from getting guns? Pro-gun activists tend to say “no” while gun control advocates tend to say “yes.” The research would clear up the question once and for all.
Similarly, the IOM wants to determine whether gun control will have any impact on suicide, or if suicidal people will simply use other methods. Suicide is currently the number one cause of gun-related death in America.
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The think tank brings in activists from both sides of the political spectrum to encourage the federal government to take a hard look at the lack of funding for gun research.
After all, the purpose of scientific research is not to spin data – that’s left to politicians and lobbyists. The IOM simply wants to cut through all of the rhetoric and politics to get to the cold, hard facts about gun control. The data could just as easily support gun rights as it could harm it. But how will anybody know for sure until they do the research?
Source: Think Progress