Sunday, January 30, 2011

The NRA Doesn't Want Inquiring Minds To Know

What is the connection between homicides and gun ownership or control? The NRA doesn't want inquiring minds to know, preferring to stymie research. Why is that? Won't the findings support their cause?

In the wake of the shootings in Tucson, the familiar questions inevitably resurfaced: Are communities where more people carry guns safer or less safe? Does the availability of high-capacity magazines increase deaths? Do more rigorous background checks make a difference?

The reality is that even these and other basic questions cannot be fully answered, because not enough research has been done. And there is a reason for that. Scientists in the field and former officials with the government agency that used to finance the great bulk of this research say the influence of the National Rife Association has all but choked off money for such work.

“We’ve been stopped from answering the basic questions,” said Mark Rosenberg, former director of the National Center for Injury Control and Prevention, part of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which was for about a decade the leading source of financing for firearms research.

Chris Cox, the N.R.A.’s chief lobbyist, said his group had not tried to squelch genuine scientific inquiries, just politically slanted ones. “Our concern is not with legitimate medical science,” Mr. Cox said. “Our concern is they were promoting the idea that gun ownership was a disease that needed to be eradicated.”

...The dearth of money can be traced in large measure to a clash between public health scientists and the N.R.A. in the mid-1990s.

So the NRA doesn't want "politically slanted" inquiries. If a study found that communities should be armed to the teeth, would they consider that "slanted"? Liberaland pinpoints what's behind the NRA's objection to such studies:

When two sides are arguing about a question that could be resolved by empirical studies, here’s a clue to which one is right. The one that’s in favor of studying the issue! What was true of cigarette companies and the effects of tobacco in the 1960s and industrial polluters and the health impacts of pollution over the past few decades is true of the NRA and guns today. The side that resists getting answers is the side that is afraid of them.

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