(From Press Release) – The Senate Education Committee voted 7-2 today to approve legislation to establish a Firearm Violence Research Center at the University of California, filling the gap left by Congressional restrictions on firearms research.
“As the 8th largest economy in the world, and home the one of the most prestigious public research universities in the world, including highly regarded researchers on firearm violence, we have the capacity to do what Congress has failed to do – get the facts, apply sound scientific methods, and find answers that lead to solutions,” said State Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis), author of Senate Bill 1006.
Firearm violence research was once the responsibility of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and was funded by the federal government along with research on all other public health issues, including diseases, accidental injuries and deaths, food safety and environmental health.
However, in 1994, at the request of the National Rifle Association, Congress passed the “Dickey Amendment” that put an end to firearm violence research at the CDC. As a result, although some research has continued through foundation and other sources, the lack of CDC funded research has left a gaping hole.
“We as policymakers are often left with insufficient data and evidence to determine the most effective policies to reduce the number of deaths and injuries resulting from firearm violence. Fortunately, California is well situated to fill this research gap,” Wolk said.
SB 1006 is strongly supported by the public health community, law enforcement, gun violence reduction advocates, and a growing list of bipartisan coauthors in the State Legislature.
Among those testifying in support of the measure was Dr. Kevin Jones, an emergency physician at Sutter Medical Center speaking on behalf of the American College of Emergency Physicians’ (ACEP) California Chapters, which is co-sponsoring SB 1006 with the American Academy of Pediatrics, California (AAP-CA).
“We are pleased the Senate has taken this important first step toward studying the public health epidemic of gun violence,” said Dr. Jones. “Research on firearm injuries is vitally needed so that evidence-based prevention measures can be implemented to reduce the number of gunshot victims my colleagues and I treat on a daily basis.”
“Pediatricians support strong, unbiased, nonpartisan research, as called for in SB 1006, to identify reasonable and effective policies to stem the epidemic of firearm-related homicide, suicide and accidental deaths to California’s children and youth,” said Dr. Dean Blumberg, speaking for AAP-CA.
Other supporters of the bill include US Senator Dianne Feinstein, Congressman Mike Thompson, California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, and former member of Congress and NRA member Jay Dickey (R-Arkansas), the author of the Dickey Amendment.
Congressman Dickey has come out strongly in favor of more research, including the proposal in SB 1006.
“Our nation does not have to choose between reducing gun-violence injuries and safeguarding gun ownership… States can serve as democracy’s laboratories for firearm violence prevention research, as they do for other major health and social problems,” Dickey wrote in a letter of support he coauthored with Mark Rosenberg, the former Director of the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. “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, which will next be heard in the Senate’s Public Safety Committee, is coauthored by Senators Kevin de León, Richard Pan, Ben Allen, Marty Block, Steven Glazer, Isadore Hall III, Loni Hancock, Robert Hertzberg; and Assemblymembers Bill Dodd, Bill Quirk, Catharine Baker, Jim Cooper, Cristina Garcia, Lorena Gonzalez, Marc Levine, Kevin McCarty, Miguel Santiago, and Philip Ting.