Democrats urge NIH gun research resume after Las Vegas shooting

Updated October 11, 2017 - 3:30 pm

WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats urged the National Institutes of Health on Wednesday to resume research into gun violence — citing mass shooting deaths on the Las Vegas Strip and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., sent a letter to NIH seeking continued funding of research into what has become a “leading cause of death” in the nation.

“With 93 Americans dying per day from gun-related fatalities, it is critical that NIH dedicate a portion of its resources to the public health consequences of gun violence,” the senators wrote, adding;

“We strongly urge you to renew the gun violence research program as soon as possible.”

The senators cited the deaths of 58 people last week in Las Vegas following a shooting on the Strip, and the deaths of 20 children and six adults at the elementary school in Connecticut in 2012.

More than 25 Senate Democrats signed the letter to NIH Director, Dr. Francis Collins. NIH conducted gun violence research from 2014 to 2017.

Former Rep. Jay Dickey, R-Ark., led the move to restrict funding for research into gun violence and its effects on public health following a 1993 study by the Centers for Disease Control that found guns kept in homes correlated with higher homicide rates in those homes.

The so-called Dickey amendment, which restricts research for advocacy of gun control, was backed by the National Rifle Association and passed by Congress in 1996.

Between 2014 and 2017, NIH provided $18 million for 22 studies on gun violence. NIH is evaluating the outcome of those studies and has not set a timeline for a decision on renewal.

Contact Gary Martin at 202-662-7390 or Follow @garymartindc on Twitter.

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