Letter to Senate, House Leaders

AAFP Calls for End to Ban on Gun Violence Research

December 11, 2015 04:36 pm News Staff

It's really no great mystery.

Tackling a major public health issue demands a carefully reasoned approach based on comprehensive and accurate data. The current prevalence of gun-related morbidity and mortality in the United States puts this issue squarely in the realm of "major public health problem," as the AAFP and seven other health professional organizations -- along with the American Bar Association -- stated in an article(annals.org) published earlier this year in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

[Man holding gun against a corridor background]

It wasn't the first time the Academy has advocated on this critical issue, and it won't be the last. Just this week, in fact, AAFP Board Chair Robert Wergin, M.D., of Milford, Neb., wrote to House and Senate leaders, calling for "an elimination of the ban on federal funding for objective, scientific research on gun violence."

"Unfortunately, such research has been effectively prohibited for the past 20 years as a result of a provision commonly referred to as the 'Dickey Amendment,'" Wergin said in the Dec. 11 letter(154 KB PDF) to House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.; House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.; House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

"Ironically, former Congressman Jay Dickey of Arkansas, the author of (the) original legislative provision, recently commented that 'it is my position that somehow or some way we should slowly but methodically fund [gun] research until a solution is reached.

"'Doing nothing is no longer an acceptable solution.'"

The Academy agrees wholeheartedly with Dickey's assessment, Wergin stated. "As physicians, we see the results of gun violence in our communities," he told the legislators. "The avoidable loss of life and the devastating impacts on the mental well-being of individuals and families are issues that family physicians must confront in their practices on a daily basis."

Wergin concluded by urging lawmakers to no longer hinder the CDC's ability to conduct appropriate research. "If we are ever to confront these issues effectively, family physicians need the sound, evidence-based guidance that only scientific research can provide," he said.

Related AAFP News Coverage
Leader Voices Blog: Seeking Solutions to Gun Violence at the Scene of the Crime