Seven governors launch effort to study gun violence

Seven governors launch effort to study gun violence
© Hill Photo Illustration/Garrett Evans

Seven governors are launching a consortium to study gun violence, looking to fill a void in federal research and help reduce gun violence nationwide.

The governors cited frustration with Washington’s lack of action as a reason the states — the majority of which have Democratic governors — came together to form the new research project.

“The federal government’s continued inaction on this issue has not only allowed the epidemic of gun violence to spread, but it has left it to the states to provide the leadership needed to confront this problem head-on,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said in a press release.

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“The consortium is a major step in our multi-state partnership to research responsible gun safety legislation and take new steps to prevent illegal guns from crossing state lines.”

In February, several states formed the "States for Gun Safety” coalition aimed at combating gun violence.

The new consortium announced Wednesday will bring together researchers from the partnering states and territories: New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Delaware and Puerto Rico. They’ll analyze different types of gun violence and collect data in the hopes of gathering information policymakers can use to decrease gun violence.

A government funding bill that passed earlier this year included language clarifying that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) can study gun violence.

Gun violence research by the federal government had been effectively prohibited since 1996, when an amendment was inserted into the omnibus spending bill that said, "None of the funds made available in this title may be used, in whole or in part, to advocate or promote gun control."

The so-called Dickey Amendment has continually been renewed. It doesn’t explicitly ban the research, but public health advocates and Democrats argue it’s lead to a chilling effect on the research for over two decades.

When the amendment was first passed, CDC researchers stopped working on gun-related projects and federal funding for them disappeared.