Just a year after President Obama unilaterally overturned 17 years of Congressional action that prevented the Centers for Disease Control from wasting taxpayer dollars for “studies” pre-designed to yield results gun control supporters can point to, he recently went for an encore by earmarking $10 million to the Centers for Disease Control for precisely this purpose. Cheered on by gun-control proponents U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), the president’s earmark would infuse CDC with a “critical investment,” Markey said, “to help us make progress toward keeping our neighborhoods and communities safer.”
That sounds nice, but what effect will this new funding really have?
First, more instructive and cost-efficient than commissioning a raft of new studies is the real life experiences of the last two decades. Gun-related violence has plummeted and continues to do so. At the same time, rates of firearm ownership are increasing and more firearms are in circulation now than ever before. According to a 2012 study from the Congressional Research Service, “firearm-related murder and non-negligent homicide” has decreased 50 percent since 1993. A 2013 Pew Research Center reported homicides with guns down 49% since 1993, even if the public was largely unaware of this fact.
Anti-gun politicians simply do not want to accept the undeniable premise that more law-abiding citizens exercising their Constitutional rights actually makes our communities safer. When would-be criminals and violent offenders have reason to believe that that their victim has the capability to protect themselves with a firearm, they are less likely to commit violent crimes. That is not just common sense; it was also a major finding of the first CDC study to be published after Obama resumed funding – to the chagrin of anti-gun zealots who expected otherwise.
That same study also found that defensive uses of firearms are common and that accidents and mass shootings account for a small percentage of total gun deaths. Not exactly the type of damning findings that many gun-control supporters were expecting. So they will keep looking until they find what they are looking for, or can at least interpret the results to support their agenda.
And while federal funding for firearms-related studies tapered off over the last 17 years, there has still been plenty of research into the issue. The Crime Prevention Research Center found that since 1996, the number of firearms-related journal articles remained constant.
A final warning sign about what will come of the CDC gravy train: Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns applauded Markey and Maloney’s proposal. Here’s some unsolicited advice for Sen. Markey and Rep. Maloney: When a group with a track record of misleading its membership, calling terrorists “victims” and failing so badly that its supporters suggest “fold[ing] it up” says you have a good idea, it may be time to reconsider your approach.
This isn’t the only bad idea for which Markey and Maloney have joined lately. The pair is also pushing a bill that would require all new handguns come equipped with so-called “smart gun” technology. Their bill goes far beyond most proposals to also mandate that gun owners retrofit older handguns with authorized-user recognition gadgetry as well.
The development of “smart gun” technology is not opposed by the firearms industry, however, it just is not nearly advanced, proven or affordable enough for it to be much more than James Bond movie magic at this point. And those who believe that gun owners will clamor to purchase guns with such limitations would do well to consider our survey research from late 2013. Mandating “smart gun” technology on all handguns is not only unfeasible, and we oppose that approach; it demonstrates that Markey and Maloney have, at best, a superficial understanding of the technology or issue. But we didn’t need to spend money on a study to know that already.