Lamenting the absence of studies has been a part of our post-massacre what-can-be-done for a number of years and a larger number of mass shootings. But what could research do to get us out of these dire straits?
Scientists, lab coat-ed spreadsheet fillers, create the data that uncovers the truth. I’m not sure if you’ve heard yet but truth is a powerful thing. Evidence is the pointy triangle on which change is leveraged.
Traffic deaths, often sited by gun lobby as even with gun deaths, get a healthy amount of study. The Federal Transit Administration gave out 7 million in grants to advance transportation safety. Research is done, evidence is collected, and regulations (seat belts, which I find sexy) are put into place. The auto industry isn’t going to make those crumple zones, laminate that glass, put in that little switch that turns your passenger airbag on and off so a tiny seat occupant is not killed by its deployment, out of the goodness of its heart.
To make industry safer, we need regulations. To make regulations, we need evidence. To make evidence, we need research.
The gun industry has put an impressive chill on learning anything about the safety of firearms. The 1996 Dickey Amendment, legislating that no research may advocate gun control, has been reauthorized every year by Congress. Data quoted in the aftermath of mass shootings is culled from CDC databases that collect cause of death information. CDC numbers tell us that guns are killing people in epic numbers. But epidemiological data alone does not a policy make.
Source: Why gun violence research has been shut down for 20 years – The Washington Post
That’s right. I was pretty stoked about the Affordable Care Act requirement that birth control to be 100% covered by all insurance plans. What a great thing! To not have to pay more for health care simply because you have a uterus! To make accessible the means of controlling when you will have children, thereby increasing your chances of advancing your education and career, making you, a uterus-haver, more able to pursue the dream of being an independent and self-sufficient citizen-contributor.
Allegedly the pres. wants to put a stop to abortions. Presumably the fewer abortions the better? Since free birth control provided by the ACA became available the number of abortions per capital dropped to its lowest level since data collection began at Roe v. Wade.
MAKE UP YOUR MIND.
This is abysmal health policy. Terrible public policy. Bad economic policy. And its perfectly in tune with the administration’s regard for women. NONE.
America is not a hostage to itself in the battle over how to handle guns. We are able to change. The evening after another massacre, the word weary for being trotted out month over month, I’ll make an appeal.
With the will, we can get better.
Our current president dismissed the Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, the first in the position to declare gun violence a public health issue. Like HIV/AIDS in the 1980s and tobacco in the 1960s, the Surgeon General can be the first political officer to acknowledge a public health disaster. This should not be a controversial position…I’ll quote from Healthcare Triage, which has a very worthwhile primer on gun death stats:
There is evidence to show that a gun-loving nation can be made less violent. You may know the history of our fellow former colony (and the only place where you can make a grittier western than home) Australia, and it’s remarkable policy-driven turn around addressing gun violence. Through compulsory buy-backs, stricter regulations, and cutting off the flow of new guns among other measures, the country responded to a harrowing mass shooting with sweeping policy change that turned their gun violence trajectory upside down. Sure, they are more than ten times smaller than the US. But in most all measures they are our closest comparator. There is no reason that their success could not be seeded here.
No reason not counting money and gun makers and, most important, political will. All of this is just to say we’re selling ourselves short with thoughts and prayers and other things offered in the face of hopelessness. We can get better.