Senate Dems Urge NIH To Renew Gun Violence Research Funding

The infamous Dickey Amendment, which bans funds for research to "promote gun control," rears its head.

More than two dozen Senate Democrats, lead by Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, called on the National Institutes of Health to renew recently lapsed funding for gun violence research.

The $22 million in NIH funding that backed 22 gun violence research projects from 2014 to 2017 expired in January. Renewal was “still under consideration,” an NIH spokesperson told Science magazine in September, but the research agency stopped accepting new project proposals in January.

“With 93 Americans dying per day from gun-related fatalities, it is critical that NIH dedicate a portion of its resources to the public health consequences of gun violence,” the senators wrote in a letter dated Wednesday to the NIH director, Dr. Francis Collins.

“We strongly urge you to renew the gun violence research program as soon as possible.”

A big part of the problem, the senators noted, is the 1996 Dickey Amendment, a law that prohibits the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from funding research “to advocate or promote gun control.” While the amendment doesn’t explicitly ban gun violence research, it’s had a chilling effect. Young researchers have shied away from a tenuously funded field of study, and publications about gun violence declined 64 percent from 1998 to 2012.

More than 33,000 Americans die by firearms every year, according the CDC. This month’s massacre in Las Vegas, the deadliest modern U.S. mass shooting, killed at least 58 people and wounded more than 500.