Gun Violence Research Act

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Gun Violence Research Act

ANA calls for overturning the Dickey Amendment

By Working Nurse
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Current federal law effectively bars the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from researching gun violence. In the wake of February’s school shooting, the ANA has renewed calls to change that law.

The Dickey Amendment

For most public health issues, scholars, reporters and the general public can turn to the CDC, which offers — and funds — research into everything from AIDS to Zika. However, for over 20 years, the CDC and other HHS agencies have conducted almost no research into gun violence or the impact of gun control laws on public health.

The reason is a budget provision known as the Dickey Amendment, after the late Rep. Jay Dickey (R-Ark.-4), who first introduced the rule back in 1996. That provision, which has reappeared in each subsequent federal budget thanks to ongoing NRA lobbying, stipulates that no federal funds “may be used to advocate or promote gun control.” 

Dickey later insisted that “[r]esearch could have been continued” without violating the rule, but in practice, the Dickey Amendment has made the subject of gun violence off-limits to the CDC and all HHS-funded researchers. 

H.R. 1478

Back in March 2017, Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.-7) introduced H.R. 1478, the Gun Violence Research Act, which would rescind the Dickey Amendment. The bill, which now has 154 cosponsors, has gained bipartisan support since February, when a man armed with a legally purchased AR-15 assault rifle killed 17 people in a Florida high school. 

The ANA strongly supports H.R. 1478 and has also joined the American Academy of Nursing and 94 other professional organizations in calling for the establishment of a bipartisan National Committee on Mass Shootings. 

“We (nurses) are on the front lines of every mass shooting, which over time [have] become deadlier and more frequent,” says ANA President Pamela F. Cipriano, RN, Ph.D., NEA-BC, FAAN. “We have a duty to advocate for the safety of all through stricter gun laws and research [into] the growing trend of gun violence.”

Photo: ANA President Pamela Cipriano speaks out on many healthcare-related issues, including the public health benefit of conducting evidence-based research on gun violence.

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