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Suppression of Necessary Gun Violence Research

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By Colette Berg

Late in July 2015, my mother asked a surgeon friend of hers his opinion on gun control. He shook his head sadly and said, “I’ve operated on good guys shot by burglars, I’ve operated on parents accidentally shot by their children and children accidentally shot by their parents. But never have I once operated on a bad guy shot by a good guy.” He does not buy the popular notion that “good guys” with guns can defend themselves from “bad guys” with guns. Of course, this an anecdote from the life of one surgeon. However, most peoples’ opinions on gun control are based on intuition and personal experience rather than data. Good data about gun violence is hard to find, because Congress has refused to provide funding for gun violence research since 1996.

In 1993, a study in the New England Journal of Medicine found a strong correlation between gun ownership and homicide. The conclusions stated, “Rather than confer protection, guns kept in the home are associated with an increase in the risk of homicide by a family member or intimate acquaintance.”1 This study was funded by the Center for Disease Control. Immediately after its publication, the National Rifle Association began to lobby for the “elimination of the center that had funded the study, the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention.”2 Their efforts to shut down the Center for Injury prevention failed, but “the House of Representatives removed $2.6 million from the CDC’s budget—precisely the amount the agency had spent on firearm injury research the previous year.”3

The Center for Disease Control’s stated purpose is to research public health.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.