Crime continues to spike in communities across America. The weekend tallies from Chicago’s gang-related crimes continue, and New York City’s Times Square and even upscale attractions in Washington, D.C. aren’t immune to criminals exchanging gunfire. This is happening because “no-bail” policies are putting criminals back on the street, yet politicians are looking elsewhere for causes, even floating proposals to pay criminals to not shoot others.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky says she wants to study why shootings are increasing. Walensky told CNN, “Something has to be done about this. Now is the time — it’s pedal to the metal time.” The Biden administration thinks this is a novel approach, but the CDC has done this before.
CDC Director Claims Gun Control Not the Aim
Walensky claimed she’s not looking for gun control and wants to include gun owners as part of the conversation to tackle so-called “gun violence.” In Walensky’s words, the issue is a “serious public health threat.”
She incorrectly claimed that “We haven’t spent the time, energy, and frankly the resources to understand this problem because it’s been so divided.” On the contrary, the topic has been well researched and CDC’s own online Web-Based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System tracks fatal and nonfatal injuries from guns and other sources.
Congress passed the Dickey Amendment to tell the CDC it couldn’t advocate for gun control, as it did before the amendment. But the Dickey Amendment doesn’t stop gun-related studies at the CDC.
Indeed, the CDC has studied guns and suicide, noise and lead exposure at ranges, firearm violence prevention in Wilmington, Delaware, and firearms homicides and suicides in metropolitan areas. In 2020, the CDC announced research grants to prevent firearm-related violence and injuries. The FBI, Department of Justice, and Congress did additional studies. President Barack Obama signed an executive order in 2013 directing $10 million to “gun violence” research. The CDC website has a section dedicated to “Funded Research” and another section dedicated to “Firearm Violence Prevention.”
The CDC also previously studied the effectiveness of laws for gun and ammunition bans, restrictions on acquiring firearms, waiting periods for firearm purchases, ammunition restrictions, licensing and registration schemes, child access prevention laws, and concealed carry laws. The CDC “found insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of any of the firearms laws or combinations of laws reviewed on violent outcomes.”
The Firearm Industry has Enacted Real Solutions
In the interview, Walensky tried to assure gun owners she wants to find “common ground.”
“Let’s agree, we don’t want people to die,” she said.
Despite asking gun owners to “come to the table” and “join us in the conversation,” neither Walensky nor anyone else at the CDC has reached out to the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the firearm industry’s trade association.
As a leading authority on firearm safety, NSSF welcomes the opportunity to engage with policymakers in a dialogue. We would explain to Walensky that NSSF has led a robust campaign to help reduce suicides, firearms accidents, and the criminal acquisition and misuse of firearms, through a campaign called Real Solutions.
That effort has demonstrated proven results. The firearm industry’s Fix NICS campaign changed laws in 16 states to ensure disqualifying adjudicated mental health and criminal records are submitted to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Disqualifying records submission increased 270 percent, from just 1.7 million in 2013 to more than 6.1 million today.
Project ChildSafe forged partnerships with 15,000 law enforcement agencies in all 50 states and five U.S. territories to distribute more than 40 million free firearm safety kits, including locking devices. This program has been heralded by the Government Accountability Office for its efficacy and was a National Safety Council’s Green Cross award finalist.
The firearm industry partnered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATF) for the “Don’t Lie for the Other Guy” campaign to prevent illegal straw purchases, reminding the public that purchasing a firearm for someone who can’t, or doesn’t want to be associated with the sale, is a federal crime that carries a punishment of 10 years in jail and a $250,000 fine.
Operation Secure Store, also an ATF partnership, voluntarily increases firearm retailer security to deter and prevent thefts and burglaries. The ATF showed this program works, with a 61 percent drop in instances of thefts and burglaries in the first six months of 2021 compared to 2020 and a 74 percent drop in the number of stolen firearms.
The firearm industry also partnered with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to provide information to firearm retailers and ranges to urge people to have a “brave conversation” to prevent suicides by firearm. The firearm industry knows that nearly two-thirds of all suicides involve a firearm and is committed to intervening before a moment of crisis. This partnership was extended to include the Department of Veterans Affairs to stem and reverse the instances of suicides.
These are programs proven to help make our communities safer without infringing on our Second Amendment rights.
CDC Can’t Address the Real Causes of Gun Violence
The firearms industry has reason to be concerned about this sudden imperative by the nation’s disease prevention agency when it – again – wants to take on firearms as a cause. The real concern is criminal misuse of firearms and since committing a crime is a behavior and not a disease, it’s hard to see where the CDC is going to recommend a prophylactic regimen to stop it.
Of course, the CDC doesn’t want to tackle criminal behavior. Officials there don’t even want to use the word “criminal.” Most media didn’t report that, at the same time Walensky announced her push to study guns, the CDC published new guidelines for the agency to use more “inclusive language.”
The guide “suggests replacing terms such as ‘Inmate,’ ‘Prisoner,’ ‘Convict/ex-convict,’ and ‘Criminal’ with terms such as ‘People/persons,’ ‘Persons in pre-trial or with charge,’ ‘Persons on parole or probation,’ or ‘People in immigration detention facilities,’” Fox News reported. Gone too are references to drug abusers.
It begs the question: If the CDC appeases “woke” political agendas and can’t be honest in its terminology, then how is America supposed to trust CDC studies of gun ownership? Walensky claims the CDC insufficiently studies the issue when that’s demonstrably false. Restricting language regarding criminal factors is disingenuous and prevents open and honest reporting.
The CDC’s announcement is just another Biden administration overreach on guns. President Joe Biden has nominated an anti-gun activist to run the ATF. Now his CDC director, the same one who has gotten away with unlawful decrees in the name of a pandemic, is targeting guns.
Walensky is rewriting the basic facts to fit a gun control narrative, even as she claims her effort isn’t about gun control. It absolutely is. This is why there is a Dickey Amendment in the first place.