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A Democratic senator is calling on appropriators to include funding in the upcoming budget bill for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to study gun violence.

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said he wants to provide $10 million a year for six years to conduct or support CDC research on firearms safety and gun violence prevention.

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“We seem to have found the political will on research into gun violence prevention, so the only thing stopping it is funding,” Markey said in a statement. “For too long, our researchers, scientists, and policymakers have suffered from the lack of information about what is causing gun violence and what can be done to prevent it. No one should be afraid of science.”

Long-standing restrictions have effectively prevented the CDC from conducting any kind of gun violence protection research. The so-called Dickey amendment was inserted into a 1996 government funding bill by the late Rep. Jay Dickey (R-Ark.) and has been renewed annually.

The provision states: “None of the funds made available in this title may be used, in whole or in part, to advocate or promote gun control.”

Although the provision doesn’t explicitly ban research into gun violence, public health advocates and Democrats say there’s been a chilling effect in place for more than 20 years.

The provision has been brought to the forefront after a shooting last month at a Florida high school that left 17 dead and a number of others injured.

Democrats have frequently railed against the research restrictions, but Republicans have been able to beat back Democratic attempts to restore the flow of federal research dollars to gun violence research.

Still, recent comments by the Trump administration’s top federal health official, as well as some House Republicans, suggest that at least some Republicans could be changing their minds.

In the past weeks, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar voiced his support for commencing gun violence prevention research at the CDC.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), and Republican Reps. Leonard Lance (N.J.), Phil Roe (Tenn.) and Mark Walker (N.C.) have also expressed support for the CDC being able to research gun violence prevention.

Goodlatte said last month that the research policy should be re-examined, particularly since Dickey later came to regret that his amendment was used to restrict funding for research on gun violence.

But House Appropriations Health Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said earlier this week he thinks it’s “unlikely” that a provision restricting research on gun violence gets removed from a spending bill.

“It’s unlikely that we would remove it in this particular legislation simply because this is a $1.2 trillion bill,” Cole said Tuesday. “It shouldn’t be derailed for a single thing.”

Tags Bob Goodlatte CDC Ed Markey Florida shooting gun research Leonard Lance Mark Walker Phil Roe Tom Cole

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