California Will Fund Gun Violence Research, Because Congress Refuses

How can we know what gun regulations work if we won’t study it? At least in California, we might finally get some real data about the most effective methods to cut gun deaths.

California Will Fund Gun Violence Research, Because Congress Refuses
Illustration: jim808080 via Shutterstock

It’s been 20 years since Congress passed legislation that banned the Centers for Disease Control from conducting public health studies on the effects gun violence and ownership. In the years since, the gun violence epidemic in America has continued to make headlines, with some 33,000 firearm-related deaths a year. It’s gotten so bad that even the Alabama Congressman who originally authored the research ban in 1996 at the behest of the NRA says he now regrets it. (“I wish we had started the proper research and kept it going all this time,” former Rep. Jay Dickey told the Huffington Post, last year).


Now California, a state that often leads the nation in progressive laws, is stepping in where the federal government won’t.

In the wake of the Orlando shooting in June, the worst mass shooting in the nation’s history, the state legislature passed a bill that allocates $5 million over five years to opening a gun violence research center based in the University of California school system.

With gun violence such a major issue in America–firearm deaths are now equal to motor vehicle-accident related deaths–there has been comparatively little study on the nature of the problem or potential solutions.

Today, Dickey, the sponsor of the 1996 Congressional ban and Mark Rosenberg, who was an official at the CDC at the time, have come together to support California’s effort. In a joint statement, they said: “It is crazy for any state to expect its legislators to vote on gun violence legislation if they do not know that it will be effective in both protecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners and reducing gun violence.”

Congress might take heed (but, let’s be honest, probably won’t).

Have something to say about this article? You can email us and let us know. If it’s interesting and thoughtful, we may publish your response.

About the author

Jessica Leber is a staff editor and writer for Fast Company's Co.Exist. Previously, she was a business reporter for MIT’s Technology Review and an environmental reporter at ClimateWire.