Do We Need CDC Funding To Understand Gun Violence?

              To paraphrase Jonathan Swift who was paraphrasing either a Greek or Persian proverb, so the mountain shook and out came a mouse. Which is the only way I can describe the Congressional hearing in DC yesterday covering gun-research funding for the CDC. The House Appropriations Committee (actually its subcommittee) heard testimony from four witnesses – Andrew Morral from RAND; Ronald Stewart from the Trauma Committee of the American College of Surgeons; Daniel Webster, who runs the gun research program at Johns Hopkins; and the hated John Lott who, on occasion, is allowed to show up at public-policy meetings to represent the ‘other side.’

               After some rather long-winded remarks by Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) who chaired the hearing and some less-winded remarks by the Ranking Member Tom Cole (R-OK) each of the panelists were given 5 minutes to make an initial statement. I listened very closely to these comments, but by end of the 15 minutes taken by Morral, Stewart and Webster, I found myself having difficulty staying awake. It wasn’t only that they didn’t really explain the connection between the lack of CDC funding and the persistence of gun violence over the past twenty years (although to Webster’s credit, I think he was about to offer such an explanation when his time expired and he was cut off) but they delivered their remarks in a manner which made them all sound somewhat bored and almost reluctant to have shown up.

              On the other hand, when John Lott delivered his opening remarks, whether or not you would agree with anything he said, at least he was animated and sounded excited about the issues that were going to be discussed. You would think that the panelists who were testifying in favor of resuming the CDC funding would have gone out of their way to make the Committee feel that this hearing marked a very important day. Frankly, I’m surprised I didn’t see Webster, Morral or Stewart stifling yawns.

              Near the end of the hearing, the mouse truly emerged from the mountain when the panelists were asked to list priorities for gun-violence research. Morral wanted more research to determine who was right and who was wrong about such hot-button issues as open carry, gun-free zones and stand your ground. That’s a biggie. Stewart knew that gun violence was caused by ‘hopelessness’ and wanted more research on how to change hopelessness into hope. A very clear agenda, I must say. Webster believed that more work needed to be done to identify ‘bad’ gun dealers although he failed to mention that most felons get their guns from sources other than retail stores.

              Lott then actually stated a fact. It was the only fact mentioned by any of the ‘experts’ on the panel. He said that 50% of all homicides occurred in 2% of American counties and were connected to the drug-selling gangs which operate in those high-violence zones. He suggested that more research was needed on ways to de-incentivize people who commit gun crimes while selling drugs – the one, specific strategy for reducing gun violence that was mentioned during the entire event.

              At one point, things actually got interesting when Andy Harris (R-MD) asked the three proponents of more research dollars whether or not they supported  a national registry of guns. Morral shlumped around in his chair and tried to beg off entirely, stating that he was just a ‘social scientist;’ Stewart said he was against it even though he heads a medical organization which has come out explicitly for just such an idea; Webster dithered a bit and then decided that he also should respond with a ‘no,’ although he has been gung-ho for comprehensive background checks which would eventually create a national list of everyone who owns a gun.

              Why do gun-control researchers and advocates like Morral, Stewart and Webster kid themselves into believing that anyone on the pro-gun side would ever think they have any interest in protecting gun ‘rights?’ If those guys are really interested in finding ‘non-partisan’ solutions to gun violence, it’s time to man up and admit that they don’t like guns. 

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6 thoughts on “Do We Need CDC Funding To Understand Gun Violence?

  1. Mike, I can’t speak for any of the four panelists but can say that a tightly written, federal background check would reduce gun violence nicely. Coupled with a federal safe storage requirement we could perhaps drop gun violence by 50% as well as make a noticeable dent in suicide and shooting accidents.
    And such measures don’t require the cooperation of criminals. Good thing because, as you & others have said, they are not going to follow new laws any more than they follow existing ones.
    Further, BCs won’t necessarily lead to gun registration, though registration would sure keep more honest people honest. That’s because, given human nature, most people would obey a comprehensive, federal BC law. And most people is good enough.

  2. > I listened very closely to these comments, but by end of the 15 minutes taken by Morral, Stewart and Webster, I found myself having difficulty staying awake. It wasn’t only that they didn’t really explain the connection between the lack of CDC funding and the persistence of gun violence over the past twenty years (although to Webster’s credit, I think he was about to offer such an explanation when his time expired and he was cut off) but they delivered their remarks in a manner which made them all sound somewhat bored and almost reluctant to have shown up.

    Given your willingness to throw away any credibility you ever had by partnering with an epic fraudster who shills for the NRA, your opinion of these legitimate researchers—who have zero financial interest at stake in the issue of guns and gun regulation—is not laughable.

    It’s despicable.

    To even put Lott at the same table as such esteemed researchers was an absolute affront to them.

    > On the other hand, when John Lott delivered his opening remarks, whether or not you would agree with anything he said, at least he was animated and sounded excited about the issues that were going to be discussed.

    Seriously? I get that you are not a trained researcher. However, you don’t need a PhD to see that Lott is a fraud. Academic arguments aside, how ignorant can you be to say that you were judging this hearing as if it was some sort of performance? Even moreso, how can you say that Lott “performed” well. He just looks slimy and oleaginous. We all know that he was the token pro-gun guy that the Republicans on the sub-committee invited because a) research is not on their side and b) they know their idiot base neither cares about about truth nor understands any kind of research related nuance.

    > You would think that the panelists who were testifying in favor of resuming the CDC funding would have gone out of their way to make the Committee feel that this hearing marked a very important day. Frankly, I’m surprised I didn’t see Webster, Morral or Stewart stifling yawns.

    I don’t know what hearing you were watching, but I do understand why you ignore the substance of what was said while trying to paint Lott as some sort of successful performance artist.

    > Near the end of the hearing, the mouse truly emerged from the mountain when the panelists were asked to list priorities for gun-violence research. Morral wanted more research to determine who was right and who was wrong about such hot-button issues as open carry, gun-free zones and stand your ground. That’s a biggie. Stewart knew that gun violence was caused by ‘hopelessness’ and wanted more research on how to change hopelessness into hope. A very clear agenda, I must say. Webster believed that more work needed to be done to identify ‘bad’ gun dealers although he failed to mention that most felons get their guns from sources other than retail stores.

    So, you didn’t hear the real researchers state that there is a tremendous need for expertly coded data that is very labor intensive to gather, and that it would be used to guide priorities rather than defining them a priori?

    Look, I get that you don’t have a PhD and are not a qualified researcher, but even you can’t be that obtuse.

    > Lott then actually stated a fact. It was the only fact mentioned by any of the ‘experts’ on the panel. He said that 50% of all homicides occurred in 2% of American counties and were connected to the drug-selling gangs which operate in those high-violence zones.

    I would like to see a peer reviewed study to back up that claim. Lott hasn’t published a peer reviewed study in over 20 years, and the peer reviewed studies he did publish were in low end journals, and his work his been thoroughly debunked by legitimate researchers. Considering his well known history of academic fraud, I’m sure that you understand why sane person will take Lott at this word.

    > He suggested that more research was needed on ways to de-incentivize people who commit gun crimes while selling drugs – the one, specific strategy for reducing gun violence that was mentioned during the entire event.

    He also stated unequivocally that we do not need federal funding for firearms research. Incredulously, one of the reasons he listed is that the researchers will be biased based on their funding source.

    Again, I ask, seriously?

    According to the IRS 990 form for Lott’s CPRC, in 2017, he took in $317,000.

    Where did this money come from?

    I bet that at least 85% of that money came directly or indirectly from firearms manufacturers, or, possibly even Russia directly. Lott is a cheap whore. Most people as dishonest as him would have to be paid a hell of a lot more to tell such blatant lies on behalf of a morally bankrupt industry that kills tens of thousands of people per year.

    That same IRS 990 form lists pro-gun extremist, profligate racist, domestic terrorist and NRA board member Ted Nugent as a CPRC board member. It also lists David A. Clarke, Jr. as a board member, you know, the same guy who traveled with the NRA to Russia in 2015, and while touring a Russian gun factory, had a picture taken with convicted Russian agent Maria Butina?

    You remember her, don’t you?

    > At one point, things actually got interesting when Andy Harris (R-MD) asked the three proponents of more research dollars whether or not they supported a national registry of guns. Morral shlumped around in his chair and tried to beg off entirely, stating that he was just a ‘social scientist;’ Stewart said he was against it even though he heads a medical organization which has come out explicitly for just such an idea; Webster dithered a bit and then decided that he also should respond with a ‘no,’ although he has been gung-ho for comprehensive background checks which would eventually create a national list of everyone who owns a gun.

    I fully support a national registry. What good is a well-regulated militia if we don’t know who has what guns and where they are stored?

    This NRA propaganda that “registration leads to confiscation” is such bullshit. They know it too. They don’t care about tyranny or rights. If they did, they wouldn’t be cozying up to a fascist man-baby who takes his orders from Russia and openly admires dictators while alienating the US’ historical democratic allies.

    The NRA simply works on behalf of gun manufactuers to preserve gun industry profits by keeping gun prices low, which stimulates demand. They know that the legitimate market for guns is saturated, and black markets respond to price-demand relationships just like any other market. Demand for guns is not inelastic. As prices rise, demand drops. If gun manufacturers and gun owners had to internalize the full cost of gun violence, an $800 AR-15 would cost $10,000.

    So many pro-gun people claim to hate socialism and welfare, when in reality, they are some of the biggest welfare queens themselves. They love cheap guns and are happy to have the rest of us pick up the tab for their habit/addiction.

    The NRA doesn’t care if they make law enforcement’s job as difficult as possible by putting as many layers of liability protection between gun manufacturers and criminals, so long as they keep those industry blood money profits up.

    > Why do gun-control researchers and advocates like Morral, Stewart and Webster kid themselves into believing that anyone on the pro-gun side would ever think they have any interest in protecting gun ‘rights?’ If those guys are really interested in finding ‘non-partisan’ solutions to gun violence, it’s time to man up and admit that they don’t like guns.

    I think the better question is why anyone should believe that someone like you or John Lott would be interested in objective research on the relationship between laws, firearms, and public health.

    Asking a guy who sells guns about the need for research to understand the relationships between guns and gun violence is just like asking a guy who sells tobacco about the need for research to understand the relationships between cigarettes and smoking related illnesses.

    The CDC is the nation’s premiere public health institution. The dipshit Republicans on the subcommittee know this fact. They also know that one of the CDC’s core missions is injury prevention. It’s in the name of the organization: The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although the original mission of the CDC was to stop the spread of infectious disease such as malaria and yellow fever, their mission has expanded far beyond disease vectors, and rightfully so.

    Our kids’ exposure to lead is 1000s of times lower than their grandparents, thanks to the CDC. Much of the reduction in drunk driving deaths is due to the work of the epidemiologists and risk management experts at the CDC. Thanks to the 22 year gun violence research ban at the CDC, which was put into law by Republicans doing the bidding of the NRA, gun deaths have started to surpass automobile deaths in many states, and the difference continues to rise.

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