Legislation was introduced today to establish a Firearm Violence Research Center at the University of California with the stated purpose of funding and carrying out important research on firearm-related violence. Congress, in 1996, at the request of the National Rifle Association, effectively banned funding for firearm-related research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and has since defeated numerous efforts to remove the ban.
The California bill, authored by State Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis), would create a research center at the University of California with the stated mission to “provide the scientific evidence on which sound firearm violence prevention policies and programs can be based.”
Senator Wolk called on all legislators to set aside their bias on any particular gun policy and support a scientific evidence-based approach of assessing which policies may be most effective in reducing firearm-related deaths and injuries in our state and our nation. “It doesn’t matter which side of the gun debate you may lean toward. We will all benefit from finding out the facts, using real data and scientific methods, to discover which policies can be most effective and which ones may not produce the desired results. Our researchers at the University of California are tops in the nation, and if Congress refuses to act responsibly, we need to step up and fill the void. We have the talent and the capacity to get this done.”
United States Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) wrote in favor of the bill, “California has the opportunity to once again lead the nation on reforming policy, this time by supporting much-needed research on the causes and impacts of gun violence,” wrote Feinstein. “I hope my colleagues in Congress will find the courage to follow California’s lead and permit federal funding for gun violence research.”
The former congressman who authored the amendment banning the federal research, Jay Dickey (R-AR, retired) joined with his former adversary, Mark Rosenberg, the former Director of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the CDC, in support of the effort.
“We are writing to express our strong support for this bill, which we believe would help provide much-needed scientific evidence on which to base effective prevention efforts,” wrote Dickey and Rosenberg in a joint letter. “We have also come to see that gun-violence research can be created, organized and conducted with two objectives: first, to preserve the rights of law-abiding citizens and legal gun owners and, second, to make our homes and communities safer. Well-structured research can be conducted to develop technologies and identify ways to achieve both objectives. We can get there only through research. States can serve as democracy’s laboratories for firearm violence prevention research, as they do for other major health and social problems. This is particularly true for California, where well-qualified researchers already work with uniquely rich and valuable data on research that simply cannot be done elsewhere.”
The bill, SB 1006 is co-sponsored by the American College of Emergency Physicians California Chapter (CA-ACEP), and the American Academy of Pediatrics, California (AAP-CA).
“My colleagues and I witness daily the profound physical and psychological damage inflicted on gunshot victims and their families,” said Dr. Marc Futernick, President of CA-ACEP. “Firearm violence takes an enormous toll not only on the victims, but also on our nation’s neighborhoods, emergency rooms, hospitals, and law enforcement. Gun violence is a public health epidemic. Research on firearm injuries is vitally needed so that evidence-based prevention measures can be implemented.”
“As co-sponsors of Senator Wolk’s legislation, pediatricians across California strongly support university-based gun violence prevention research to create evidence-based, cost-effective policies to protect the most vulnerable among us, our children and youth,” said Kris Calvin, Executive Director of AAP-CA.
Congressman Mike Thompson (D-Napa), an avid hunter, gun owner, and chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force in the U.S. House of Representatives, also threw his support behind the bill. “By allowing experts to conduct research on the causes of gun violence, California is stepping up where Republicans in Congress have failed,” said Thompson. “This bill will let our experts do what they do best – conduct research that will save some lives. I commend Senator Wolk for leading this effort. Congress should follow suit.”
The bill is coauthored by Senators Kevin de León, Richard Pan, Ben Allen, Steven Glazer, Isadore Hall III, Loni Hancock, Robert Hertzberg; and Assemblymembers Bill Dodd, Bill Quirk, Catharine Baker, Jim Cooper, Eduardo Garcia, Lorena Gonzalez, Marc Levine, Kevin McCarty, Miguel Santiago, and Philip Ting. The full text of SB 1006 may be found online at www.leginfo.ca.gov.
(This was a press release from Senator Lois Wolk’s office)