Gun Violence Research–Why can’t there be any?

Although I don’t see gun control as a mental health issue, really, it seems that anytime there is a shooting event in this country the very next topic will be to question the shooter’s mental health status.  I don’t understand this connection.

Yes, sometimes a mentally ill person uses a gun to harm someone, but that really is not the norm.  The only psychiatric disorders I know of that make someone more likely to use a gun for harm would be Axis II disorders of personality, not Axis I disorders.  Personality disorders are dangerous, but people with these diagnoses are productive and essentially normal except for how they perceive their connections and relationships.

These disorders, when treated, require much time and effort to overcome and usually there is no drug to “fix” it.  Borderline personality disorders have issues with abandonment, antisocial personality disorders have issues with empathy, narcissist personality disorders have ego issues.  True psychopathic personality disorders, while not found frequently in the general population, simply don’t care what any other person feels or thinks.

Where does this fit in with guns and shootings?  In this article, the Congressman who headed a controversial amendment in 1996 looks back at what he accomplished with great regret.  Good for him, but how do we fix the mess he left us all with?

Please read this article in its entirety and then make up your own mind about gun violence research.  Could good research over the past 20 years have made a difference in the situation we find ourselves in today?  I think it is possible.  What do you think?



10/06/2015 08:03 am ET Updated Dec 19, 2016

The Congressman Who Restricted Gun Violence Research Has Regrets

Rep. Jay Dickey (R-Ark.) authored the controversial 1996 amendment that remains in place. He wishes Congress would change it.

gun violence, gun research, gun control


WASHINGTON — Looking back, nearly 20 years later, Jay Dickey is apologetic.

He is gone from Congress, giving him space to reflect on his namesake amendment that, to this day, continues to define the rigid politics of gun policy. When he helped pass a restriction of federal funding for gun violence research in 1996, the goal wasn’t to be so suffocating, he insisted. But the measure was just that, dampening federal research for years and discouraging researchers from entering the field.

Now, as mass shootings pile up, including last week’s killing of nine at a community college in Oregon, Dickey admitted to carrying a sense of responsibility for progress not made.

“I wish we had started the proper research and kept it going all this time,” Dickey, an Arkansas Republican, told the Huffington Post in an interview. “I have regrets.”

The politics of gun control were as divisive in the 1990s as they are today. Republicans had won big in the ‘94 elections by campaigning against President Bill Clinton’s gun control legislation. And in the spring of 1996, the National Rifle Association and its allies set their sights on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for funding increasingly assertive studies on firearms ownership and the effects on public health. The gun rights advocates claimed the research veered toward advocacy and covered such logical ground as to be effectively useless.

At first, the House tried to close down the CDC’s entire, $46 million National Center for Injury Prevention. When that failed, Dickey stepped in with an alternative: strip $2.6 million that the agency had spent on gun studies that year. The money would eventually be re-appropriated for studies unrelated to guns. But the far more damaging inclusion was language that stated, “None of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control.”

Dickey proclaimed victory — an end, he said at the time, to the CDC’s attempts “to raise emotional sympathy” around gun violence. But the agency spent the subsequent years petrified of doing any research on gun violence, making the costs of the amendment cleareeven to Dickey himself.

He said the law was over-interpreted. Now, he looks at simple advances in highway safety — safety barriers, for example — and wonders what could have been done for guns.

“If we had somehow gotten the research going, we could have somehow found a solution to the gun violence without there being any restrictions on the Second Amendment,” Dickey said. “We could have used that all these years to develop the equivalent of that little small fence.”

Read the entire article here 

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