Key Committee Supports Establishing UC Firearm Violence Research Center

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(Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
(Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

Approves bill to fill gap created by Congressional limit on federally funded research

(From Press Release) Legislation to establish a Firearm Violence Research Center at the University of California, filling the gap left by Congressional restrictions on firearms research, was approved today on a 5-1 vote in the Senate Committee on Public Safety.

“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,” said State Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis), author of Senate Bill 1006. “Research and technological advances helped dramatically reduce deaths in automobile accidents. Better research into firearms violence could yield similar reductions. But we won’t know until we do the research.”

Firearm violence research, once the responsibility of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), was funded by the federal government along with research on other public health issues such as diseases, accidental injuries and deaths, food safety and environmental health.

However, in 1996, 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.

Under SB 1006, the UC research center would conduct interdisciplinary research to provide the scientific evidence upon which to base sound firearm violence prevention policies and programs—and would work with the State Legislature and state agencies to identify, implement, and evaluate innovative firearm violence prevention policies and programs.

Dr. Kevin Jones, an emergency physician at Sutter Medical Center, testified in support of SB 1006 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.”

SB 1006, which will next be heard in the Senate’s Appropriations Committee, is strongly supported by the public health community, gun violence reduction advocates, and law enforcement—including the California College and University Policy Chiefs Association and California Police Chiefs Association. The bill is also supported by US Senator Dianne Feinstein, Congressman Mike Thompson, California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, and former member of Congress and NRA member Jay Dickey (R-Arkansas), author of the Dickey Amendment.

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