GOP lawmaker behind gun control research ban has 'regrets'

GOP lawmaker behind gun control research ban has 'regrets'
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Amid growing pressure to reverse a ban on gun control research, a former Republican lawmaker now says he has regrets about writing the provision blocking studies.

In a letter released Wednesday, former Rep. Jay Dickey (R-Ark.) disavowed his efforts two decades ago to block gun control research.

“Back in [the 1990s], I took part in cutting off gun violence research dollars at the federal level because of what was considered a misapplication of the dollars by the CDC. I have recently expressed my regrets that we didn't continue that research,” Dickey wrote in a letter released Wednesday by House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force Chairman Mike Thompson (D-Calif.).

"Research could have been continued on gun violence without infringing on the rights of gun owners,” Dickey added.

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The Centers of Disease Control (CDC) has been blocked from studying gun violence since 1996 when the gun lobby muscled the provision into a government spending bill.

But in the wake of a number of recent high-profile shootings, from Charleston, S.C., to Sandy Hook, Conn., some House Democrats and thousands of doctors are calling for more research into gun violence.   

Doctors for America organized a rally Wednesday to call on Congress to strike down the ban. The group delivered a petition to lawmakers signed by more than 2,000 doctors.

“For over 20 years, politicians have put a gag order on public health research for gun violence only to score political points,” Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) said Wednesday in a statement.

“Gun violence is among the most difficult public health challenges we face as a country, but because of the deeply misguided ban on research, we know very little about it,” Rep. David Price (D-N.C.) said in a statement. “Regardless of where we stand in the debate over gun violence, we should all be able to agree that this debate should be informed by objective data and robust scientific research.”