Congress to fund research on gun violence for the first time in over 20 years

AP Photo/John MinchilloMourners gathered for a vigil at the scene of a mass shooting on August 4 in Dayton, Ohio.
  • Congress on Monday reached a federal spending deal that would allocate government funds toward gun-violence research for the first time in over 20 years.
  • The $US25 million in funding would be split across the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health.
  • Democrats and gun-control advocates hailed the move as a major success.
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Congress has reached a government spending deal that would allocate $US25 million toward research on gun violence in a move Democrats are hailing as a major success.

This would mark the first time federal money has been allocated toward gun-violence research in more than 20 years.

The funding, which is included in a $US1.3 trillion federal spending deal that congressional negotiators finalised on Monday, would be split between the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health, The Washington Post reported. Congress is poised to pass the spending legislation later this week, when it would then move to President Donald Trump’s desk for his signature.

The US federal government has not funded gun-violence research in years because of a 1996 rule known as the Dickey Amendment, which barred federal funds from going toward gun-control advocacy. The rule did not explicitly bar money from going toward research on gun violence, but it has essentially had this effect.

Last year, Democrats won a small victory over the de facto moratorium on research by inserting language into the spending bill that said the CDC could, in fact, study gun violence despite the 1996 rule. But no funding was allocated toward that purpose at the time.

The funding included in this year’s spending package is less than the $US50 million Democrats requested and, as The Washington Post reported, much less than federal funding that goes to other areas of research. But congressional Democrats and gun-control advocates are still celebrating the result.

Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy, who was elected to Congress roughly a month before the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in his state of Connecticut and has been an outspoken proponent of gun control ever since, tweeted: “The power of the gun violence prevention movement is now unmistakable. I was proud to fight alongside so many advocates – and push hard for this on the Appropriations Committee – to get this done.”

In 2017, the latest year from which full data is available, 39,773 people died from gun-related injuries in the US, according to the CDC. Overall, roughly 37% of the deaths were murders, while 60% were suicides.

Gun control has long been a divisive issue in US politics, and no major gun-control legislation has been signed into law in roughly 25 years.

A series of mass shootings in 2019 have pushed Democrats to renew discussions on the issue. The Democrat-controlled House passed a bill earlier this year that would require universal background checks, but it has not been taken up in the GOP-controlled Senate. Trump opposes the legislation.

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