“Yet again, lives young and old are viciously taken by an all-too-permissive culture of gun violence in America. We stand in white coats - emergency room doctors, trauma surgeons, nurses, primary care physicians - enraged by the violence we see on the news and agonized by what we have witnessed first-hand. We watch as those sworn to represent us fling thoughts and prayers across social media while continuously cloaking themselves in the money provided by the gun lobby to insulate and deflect.
We represent those who spend each day safeguarding the lives and the health of people across the nation in calling for a renewed approach to combating gun violence as a public health emergency. We commend HHS Secretary Alex Azar for his statement in favor of increased research into gun violence prevention. There are indeed so many questions that need nonpartisan, data-driven answers: about the causes and correlates of gun violence; about how gun violence spreads in communities; about which legislative, regulatory, and community-based approaches have been effective, or not, in combating it; about which technologies and safety measures are worth investment and implementation.
However, it will take more than just an informal commitment to thaw the chilling effect that a loose interpretation of the Dickey Amendment has had on federally-sponsored research into gun violence. It will take active and ongoing support immune to political winds. It will take a commitment to restored and increased funding of federal agencies so that they may undertake, and bolster projects aimed both directly and indirectly at answering these questions.
Those who would represent such common-sense efforts as a threat to fundamental liberties are presenting the American people, our patients, with a lethal false choice. It must stop. Congress must repeal the Dickey amendment. We call on Congress to restore and supplement funding to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and other federal agencies that will support research into gun violence. We call on those who represent us and our patients to take the first step away from absolutism and cynicism, toward courage, toward stopping this carnage, toward healing our collective gaping wound. This time can be different. There does not have to be a next time."