The Dickey Amendment is a provision first inserted as a rider into the 1996 United States federal government omnibus spending bill which mandated that "none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) may be used to advocate or promote gun control." In the same spending bill, Congress earmarked $2.6 million from the CDC's budget, the exact amount that had previously been allocated to the agency for firearms research the previous year, for traumatic brain injury-related research.
The amendment was lobbied for by the National Rifle Association (NRA), and named after its author Jay Dickey, a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives from Arkansas. Although the Dickey Amendment did not explicitly ban it, for about two decades the CDC avoided all research on gun violence for fear it would be financially penalized. Congress clarified the law in 2018 to allow for such research, and in the FY2020 federal omnibus spending bill earmarked the first funding for it since 1996.
Adoption and effectEdit
In 1993, the New England Journal of Medicine published a study by Arthur Kellermann and others found that guns in the home were associated with an increased risk of homicide in the home. The research was funded by the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC). The NRA responded by lobbying for the elimination of the NCIPC. The NCIPC was not abolished, but the Dickey Amendment was included in the 1996 Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 1997.
In a December 2012 article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Kellermann wrote: "Precisely what was or was not permitted under the clause was unclear. But no federal employee was willing to risk his or her career or the agency's funding to find out. Extramural support for firearm injury prevention research quickly dried up."
Equivalent "Dickey Amendment" language was added by Congress to the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012 funding the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This language was also lobbied for by the NRA.
Calls for repealEdit
In response to this amendment being adopted, the American Psychological Association adopted a resolution condemning it. In December 2015, multiple medical organizations, including Doctors for America, the American College of Preventive Medicine, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, called on Congress to repeal the amendment. That same month, the American Association for the Advancement of Science also called for an end to this amendment. Other groups calling for repeal of the Dickey Amendment include the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, American College of Physicians, American College of Surgeons, American Medical Student Association, American Public Health Association, and Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
Mark L. Rosenberg, the former director of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, has described this amendment as "a shot fired across the bow" at CDC researchers who wanted to research gun violence. In a 2012 op-ed, Dickey and Rosenberg argued that the CDC should be able to research gun violence, and Dickey has since said that he regrets his role in stopping the CDC from researching gun violence, saying he simply didn't want to "let any of those dollars go to gun control advocacy."
In a 2016 article in The Atlantic on the impact of the Dickey Amendment, Rosenberg says: “It was the leadership of CDC who stopped the agency from doing gun violence research ... Right now, there is nothing stopping them from addressing this life-and-death national problem." As the article notes this assertion runs counter to the "conventional wisdom" of the Dickey Amendment "as blocking the agency [i.e. the CDC] from conducting research on firearms deaths and injuries."
Following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, President Barack Obama directed the CDC and other federal agencies to "conduct or sponsor research into the causes of gun violence and the ways to prevent it." The CDC responded by funding a research project and conducting their own study in 2015. That month, a spokeswoman for the agency, Courtney Lenard, told the Washington Post that "it is possible for us to conduct firearm-related research within the context of our efforts to address youth violence, domestic violence, sexual violence, and suicide. But our resources are very limited."
In October 2015, 110 members of Congress, all of whom were Democrats, signed a letter calling on Congress to reject the amendment. Despite the efforts of House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi to have the Dickey amendment removed from the spending bill for the following year, Congress passed this bill with the amendment still in it.
On March 21, 2018, Congressional negotiators reached a deal on an Omnibus continuing resolution. The $1.3 trillion spending agreement also includes language that codified Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar's interpretation of the Dickey Rider in testimony on February 18, 2018, before the US House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee. While the amendment itself remains, the language in a report accompanying the Omnibus spending bill clarifies that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can indeed conduct research into gun violence, but cannot use government appropriated funds to specifically advocate for gun control. The bill included no funding earmarked for gun safety and was signed into law by U.S. President Donald J. Trump on March 23, 2018.
The fiscal year 2020 federal budget included $25 million for the CDC and NIH to research reducing gun-related deaths and injuries, the first such funding since 1996.
- 104th Congress. "Public Law 104–208" (PDF).
- Jamieson, Christine (February 2013). "Gun violence research: History of the federal funding freeze". Psychological Science Agenda. American Psychological Association.
- Fessenden, Marissa (13 July 2015). "Why So Few Scientists Are Studying the Causes of Gun Violence". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 13 March 2016.
- Schumaker, Erin (7 December 2015). "Why The Ban On Gun Violence Research Is A Public Health Issue". Huffington Post. Retrieved 13 March 2016.
- Kodjak, Alison (8 December 2015). "Congress Still Limits Health Research On Gun Violence". NPR. Retrieved 13 March 2016.
- Letter from coalition of medical and public health groups congressional leaders (December 20, 2018).
- Frankel, Todd C. (30 December 2015). "Their 1996 clash shaped the gun debate for years. Now they want to reshape it". Washington Post. Retrieved 13 March 2016.
- Dickey, Jay (27 July 2012). "We won't know the cause of gun violence until we look for it". Washington Post. Retrieved 13 March 2016.
- Diamond, Jeremy (2 December 2015). "Former GOP congressman flips on support for gun violence research". CNN. Retrieved 13 March 2016.
- "Ex-Rep. Dickey Regrets Restrictive Law On Gun Violence Research". NPR.org.
- Masters, Kate (April 5, 2016). "Why Did the CDC Stop Researching Gun Violence?". The Atlantic. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
... experts assert that while the Dickey Amendment placed constraints on the agency, it did not ban the study of gun violence outright.
- Betz, Marian; Ranney, Megan; Wintemute, Garen (21 January 2016). "Frozen Funding on Firearm Research: "Doing Nothing Is No Longer an Acceptable Solution"". Western Journal of Emergency Medicine. 17 (1): 91–93. doi:10.5811/westjem.2016.1.29767. PMC 4729430. PMID 26823941.
- IOM (Institute of Medicine) and NRC (National Research Council) (2013-06-05). Priorities for Research to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-Related Violence. doi:10.17226/18319. ISBN 9780309284387.
- Sumner, Steven (November 3, 2015). "Elevated Rates of Urban Firearm Violence and Opportunities for Prevention" (PDF). Elevated Rates of Urban Firearm Violence and Opportunities for Prevention. Delaware Department of Health and Social Services. Retrieved July 2, 2016.
- Frankel, Todd C. (28 October 2015). "110 members of Congress plead for ending ban on CDC gun research". Washington Post. Retrieved 13 March 2016.
- Ferris, Sarah (16 December 2015). "House Dems lose fight to nix gun research ban in budget". The Hill. Retrieved 13 March 2016.
- Cancryn, Adam. (18 February 2018). "Trump's new health chief backs CDC research on gun violence". Politico. Retrieved 22 March 2018.
- DeBonis, Mike, O'Keefe, Ed, and Werner, Erica. (22 March 2018). "Here's what Congress is stuffing into its $1.3 trillion spending bill". Washington Post. Retrieved 22 March 2018.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
- Wagner, John and DeBonis, Mike. (23 March 2018). "Trump signs $1.3 trillion spending bill despite veto threat on Twitter". Washington Post. Retrieved 26 March 2018.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
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