For gun-injury research

Historian Richard Hofstadter called it the paranoid style in American politics. The NRA’s bloviating Wayne LaPierre is Exhibit One, an angry mind hankering to enshrine George Orwell’s “1984” catchphrase, that ignorance is strength.

The child massacre in Newtown cast into relief LaPierre and the NRA’s decades-long campaign to supplant health research on firearms and violence. Research and facts a hazard? In the paranoid war on firearms data and public health, the paranoid are winning.

Dr. Fred Rivara of the UW’s Department of Pediatrics and Seattle Children’s Hospital experienced the NRA’s data stiffling first-hand. Throughout the 1980s and 90s, Rivara and his colleague, the Rand Corporation’s Dr. Arthur Kellermann, conducted firearm-injury research. The hammer fell in 1996, when an NRA-obsequious Congress whacked $2.6 million from the Centers for Disease Control. As Rivera and Kellermann note in an online essay for the Journal of the American Medical Association, $2.6 million just happened to be the amount dedicated to firearm-injury research. They quote the Appropriation language which underlines the point. “None of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control.” The inference is that empirical, control-tested data might demonstrate a relationship between gun control and a public good (say, fewer murdered children.) What if the opposite is true, and the NRA’s prescription of armed guards at schools has merit? As the National Academy of Sciences reported in 2004, there is inadequate data to determine what’s effective. Doctors and social scientists need to analyze inputs, but the NRA and its minions in Congress — and even the Washington Legislature — will have none of it.

Rivara and Kellermann underscore the extent of suppressed info. In Washington, files on firearm registration can no longer be accessed. The 2011 National Defense Authorization Act prohibits commanders and NCOs from speaking to a service member about his or her private firearm even — and here’s the kicker — “in cases in which a leader believes that a service member may be suicidal.”

The NRA continues to inject its agenda into exposed, public tissue. “Go to p. 766 of the Affordable Care Act,” Rivara says. There it is, buried in a blur of Obamacare titles and bureaucratese, the ultimate non-sequitur. “Protection of Second Amendment Gun Rights.” The law gags wellness and prevention (!) programs from collecting or disclosing data on the presence or storage of firearms (or the lawful use of firearms or ammunition.)

Preventing gun violence is everyone’s business. With firearm-injury data, Congress and the Legislature need to let in the light. Ignorance gives strength to the NRA, while the truth sets us free.

More in Opinion

Editorial cartoons for Saturday, Nov. 18

A sketchy look at the day in politics.… Continue reading

Editorial: Senate Republicans make bigger mess of tax bill

Senate Republicans are using repeal of an Obamacare mandate to win votes for their tax reform bill.

Schwab: At home and abroad, Trump sets low bar for ‘great’

His Asian trip made the U.S. a bit player on the world stage. And the play’s not any better at home.

Does low voter turnout point to apathy toward local politics?

The November voter turnout displayed either burnout or apathy. Either way this… Continue reading

Editorial cartoons for Friday, Nov. 17

A sketchy look at the day in politics.… Continue reading

Gerson: When lies become routine, corruption follows

We are witnessing what happens when conservatives become untethered from morality and religion.

Milbank: Truth is now out — ‘Bernie Bernstein’ broke all scandals

From Watergate to Roy Moore, Bernie robocalled random numbers, offering payouts for false claims.

Ignatius: Saudi prince tries to limit damage from brash moves

The crown prince, known as MBS, is fighting corruption, but taking big chances to combat it.

Harrop: Dems shouldn’t fret over another Hillary investigation

Launching a new witch hunt against Clinton is a sure sign that the heat’s been turned up on Trump.

Most Read