This week, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney joined with gun violence victims, advocates and local leaders to call on President Obama to commit $10 million in his Fiscal Year 2015 budget for gun-violence research. In 2013, President Obama lifted a 17-year ban on federal gun violence research, but there has been no funding specifically appropriated for the effort. Earlier this week, Maloney and Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) sent a letter to the President requesting the funding.
“Gun violence costs our country an estimated $174 billion every year,” said Maloney. “All we’re asking for is six one-hundredths of a percent of that amount to help figure out why and prevent future tragedies. The President included this funding in his previous budget, and I hope that he will again this year. The CDC has a research plan in place. Now they need the funding to move forward.”
Antonius Wiriadjaja, a New York City victim of gun violence, said she was fortunate to have survived her injuries with the help of a medical team that was trained to deal with gunshot wounds. “Increasing the federal funding toward gun-violence research is extremely important to prevent more senseless killings on our streets,” said Wiriadjaja. “How can we, as a nation, treat our problems when we are blind to what they are? Our government is supposed to protect its citizens, not look the other way.”
In 2013, the New York State Legislature passed the most comprehensive gun laws in the country. “One of the biggest issues associated with gun violence throughout the country is individuals with mental health problems,” said Assemblyman Joe Lentol, a leader in passing the SAFE Act through the Assembly. “New York State’s legislation directly addressed this problem. The research funding that Congresswoman Maloney is requesting will take direct aim at remedying this problem on a nationwide level.”
Since the mid-1990s, federal funding for gun violence research has almost halted entirely in response to calls from the pro-gun lobby. As a result, policymakers, doctors and counselors lack comprehensive, scientific information about the causes and characteristics of gun violence or the best strategies to prevent future tragedies.
In 2012, the CDC devoted just $100,000 to gun violence research, yet according to the Department of Justice guns are involved in 70 percent of homicides, and kill or injure tens of thousands each year, including one child every 34 minutes.
In January 2013, Maloney authored H.R. 321, the Firearm Safety and Public Health Research Act, which would allow the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to conduct scientific research into firearm safety.
Maloney is also the sponsor of the Gun Trafficking Prevention Act of 2013 (H.R. 452). The first bipartisan bill introduced in the House in the wake of the Newtown Elementary School tragedy, Maloney’s legislation makes gun trafficking a federal crime and imposes stronger penalties for “straw purchasers,” those who buy guns for convicted felons and others who are prohibited from buying guns on their own.
“Gun violence is a public health crisis of epidemic proportions, killing 31,000 Americans and wounding 80,000 every year,” said Leah Barrett, Executive Director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence. “Like other public health problems, gun violence research must be fully funded so that policymakers and the public understand the terrible toll guns take on our society and act to pass common sense gun safety laws that will save lives.”