For the First Time in 23 Years, Congress Will Allot Money to Gun Violence Research

Supermajority Education Fund

January 9, 2020

On December 17, Congress voted on a $1.4 trillion spending bill that includes $25 million for gun violence research, marking the first time in more than two decades that Congress has put any money toward this kind of research. The money will go toward the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the funding comes out of the Fiscal Year 2020 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations bill. 

Former U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who was one of 18 people shot during a constituent meeting in a supermarket parking lot in 2011, released a statement on December 16 about the historic vote. 

“This investment in gun violence prevention research at CDC and NIH will shine a bright light on and help solve one of our nation’s most deadly and embarrassing problems,” Giffords said. “I am enormously grateful to Speaker Pelosi, Chairwoman Lowey, Chairwoman DeLauro, and each of my colleagues in Congress who prioritized this funding this year, and Chairwoman Lowey’s leadership on this historic win, in her last Congressional term, adds to a legacy already brimming with success.”

In August 2019, Matt Laslo of Wired magazine wrote that the CDC could allocate funds for gun violence research if Congress earmarked a certain amount of money for that purpose. The CDC has not funded gun research since 1996, when the Dickey Amendment, authored by former U.S. House Representative Jay Dickey (R-AR), was passed. This Amendment made it illegal for federal money to be used for gun-violence research and therefore ended the CDC’s study of gun violence as a public health issue.

“Advocates say getting the federal government back involved would turbocharge efforts to better understand how and why Americans die from guns,” Laslo wrote. 

Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action, a grassroots movement for protecting people from gun violence, told Supermajority News that should Congress focus on gun research again, it would be a huge victory for American women and children, in particular. 

“American women are 25 times more likely to be killed by guns than women in other high-income countries,” Watts said. “Firearms are the second leading cause of death for American children and teens overall, and the first leading cause of death for black children and teens. By researching the root causes of gun violence and identifying evidence-based solutions, we can save lives and move one step closer towards ending this uniquely American crisis.”