GOP Congresswoman Questions The Need For Government-Funded Research On Gun Violence

"I’m not sure that’s the best use of taxpayer money,” Rep. Claudia Tenney said.

Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-N.Y.), the lawmaker who came under fire recently for her dubious claim that Democrats are more prone to be mass shooters, says the federal government has better things to spend money on than research about gun violence.

“We have so many outside groups and independent groups that do that already. You know, should we be spending taxpayer money on something like that? I’m not sure that’s the best use of taxpayer money,” Tenney said in a local radio interview on Wednesday. 

Having access to more information about an issue like gun violence might allow members of Congress to be able to make more accurate statements to the public regarding shootings. Collecting such data is difficult in the United States, however, thanks to a 1996 law that restricts federal funding for research on gun violence. The so-called Dickey Amendment, named after former Rep. Jay Dickey (R-Ark.), effectively ended federal research on gun violence by barring the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from spending funds on gun control advocacy.

Democrats and gun control advocates are again trying to lift the prohibition after last month’s shooting in Parkland, Florida, where a teen gunman opened fire at a high school, killing 17 people and wounding dozens of others.

“Two weeks since Congresswoman Tenney’s appalling conspiracy theory sparked a national outrage, she still refuses to face facts and apologize to the people who are counting on her for leadership,” said Andrew Bates, a spokesperson for Democratic super-PAC American Bridge, which flagged the comments. “Now she says she doesn’t believe researching the effects of gun violence in America should even be a priority. Every day Tenney disqualifies herself from serving in any elected office at all, let alone representing New Yorkers in Congress.”

Tenney said Wednesday that she would rather see the government fund programs that would help needy communities, like social service organizations and food banks, than research about gun violence.

“There are ways we can spend our money other than doing studies that are, look like they may be, and I could be wrong, they may be duplicitous [sic],” Tenney said in the interview.

The first-term congresswoman appeared to have less concern for government spending in supporting two recent bills that are projected to add boatloads to the debt. In December, she voted for the GOP’s $1.5 trillion tax overhaul bill. And in February, she voted for a massive bipartisan budget deal that reopened the government while increasing spending by hundreds of billions of dollars. The ultimate cost of the deal could increase to about $2 trillion by 2027, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

Tenney walked away from a testy television interview on Monday after she was asked about her controversial remarks that people who commit mass shootings are often Democrats.

“It is fake news!” Tenney told a reporter who asked about her claim. “I answered your question every which way, it is fake news.”

“Bye. Done. It’s ridiculous,” the congresswoman added, before cutting off the interview.