One of Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey’s priorities as of late has been an effort to curtail gun violence on our streets and keep illegal guns out of the hands of those not authorized to receive them. Along with suggesting recognition technology on all firearms, Senator Markey called for a $10 million allotment in the federal budget dedicated to gun violence research, and President Barack Obama happily obliged.
As part of the federal budget proposal, $10 million of the possible $73.7 million dedicated to the Department of Health and Human Services will be used to subsidize research. The Health and Human Services Budget in Brief admittedly makes little – arguably too little – reference to how the department will conduct said research on guns violence.
Out of its 141 pages, the brief mentions gun violence research in a single sentence under the section related to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. It reads, “This amount includes $10 million to conduct research on the causes and prevention of gun violence, including investigating links between video games, media images, and violence.”
Looking into “causes and prevention” certainly sounds nice, but the phrasing is too vague to really evoke any true sense of optimism. Rather than focus the investigation into links between gun violence and video games and other interactive media devices, perhaps the investigation should put an added emphasis on substance abuse, mental health and the socioeconomic disparities that produce gun offenders.
But Senator Markey’s solicitation for more money is, if nothing else, a good start, and certainly better than nothing.
Said the senator in a statement,
Gun violence is a public health crisis, and we should attack it with all the urgency and resources it demands. This research funding will ensure we have better data about what causes gun violence and what can be done to prevent it. I commend President Obama for this critical investment, which will help us make progress towards keeping our neighborhoods and communities safer.
The Second Amendment (the right to bear and keep arms) is the rule on which lobbyists groups like the National Rifle Association are cautioning anti-gun advocates and Congressional champions to tread lightly, but things get a little dicier underneath the surface.
After the tragic shooting in Newtown, Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School, the Washington Post wrote “the [gun] industry is expected to rack up a steady $11.7 billion in sales and $993 million in profits, according to analysts at IBIS World.” In that respect, it’s no surprise that the likes of the NRA are urging Congress to look for alternative solutions that will not hamper any sales figures. Should some conclusive evidence turn up that indeed gun violence prevention can be increased if more restrictions are placed on the process and sale of guns, it’ll be interesting to see how they respond.
In the meantime, feel free to share your thoughts on the perpetual debate on gun violence prevention in the comments section below.