In United States politics, the Dickey Amendment is a provision first inserted as a rider into the 1996 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 NRA. The amendment is named after its author Jay Dickey, a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives from Arkansas. Many commentators have described this amendment as a "ban" on gun violence research by the CDC.
The amendment was introduced after lobbying by the National Rifle Association in response to the perceived bias in a 1993 study by Arthur Kellermann that found that guns in the home were associated with an increased risk of homicide in the home, as well as other CDC funded studies and efforts. 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 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.
Attempts to remove the amendmentEdit
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 dollar spending agreement also includes language that codified Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar 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. It was signed into law by U.S. President Donald J. Trump on March 23, 2018.
- 104th Congress. "Public Law 104–208" (PDF).
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