Mrs. CAROLYN B. MALONEY of New York. Mr. Speaker, I rise to introduce the Firearm Safety and Public Health Research Act and I commend my colleagues, Mr. Markey and the other 31 members who have joined me in sponsoring this bill.
Gun violence is a public health issue and public health agencies should have the ability to develop and pursue violence prevention and mental health research.
Unfortunately, since 1996 a rider to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) appropriations bill has prohibited the agency from conducting high-quality, peer-reviewed research into gun violence prevention. Congress expanded the ban in 2011 to apply to the entire Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), including the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
For over 16 years, gun deaths have continued to plague this country while we have restricted any meaningful, government sponsored scientific research on gun violence. We are unable to answer fundamental questions on the underlying causes of gun deaths because special interests and Members of Congress have restricted federal agencies from researching it.
Now is the time to repeal this ban.
The bill I am introducing will do just that.
The Firearm Safety and Public Health Research Act will lift the current prohibitions on CDC and NIH research into firearm safety. Federally-supported public health research would resume at these key agencies to help understand the causes of gun violence and make sure that we are best prepared to address this enormous public health crisis.
Even former Representative Jay Dickey, the Congressman who was instrumental in passing the 1996 ban agrees and is now calling for its repeal.
Congress should not be able to establish politically motivated restrictions on specific areas of research. We have witnessed far too many tragedies as the result of firearms and we need all the data and information we can get to inform policy.
Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support this important legislation.