Twenty schoolchildren and six teachers dead at Sandy Hook elementary school. Twelve people dead at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. Seventeen more in Colorado and California in the past two weeks. All victims of mass shootings.
Gun violence in America has become a frequent - almost expected - problem. Surely experts and government officials are doing everything they can to understand this horrible trend.
Actually, not only is that not true, but a little-known law bans federal research on gun violence.
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The ban was pushed through almost 20 years ago with backing from the National Rifle Association (NRA). It effectively handcuffs public health experts from doing comprehensive research on the causes and contributing factors to mass shootings.
The ostensible reasoning? Gun violence is "not a disease," according to former Speaker of the House John Boehner and other GOP leaders. What requires study and treatment is mental health, say these lawmakers, not the acquisition and use of guns.
Their argument starts to disintegrate, however, when looking at what the CDC does research, ThinkProgress reports. CDC dollars are used to research car accidents, natural disasters, ventilation systems - hardly considered diseases by even the most expansive definition.
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Just hours before the San Bernardino shootings that killed 14 people, a group of doctors petitioned to Congress to repeal the ban. Signed by 2,000 physicians, the petition outlines gun violence as a public health crisis that takes thousands of lives each year just like many diseases, reports the Washington Post.
The doctors were joined by a handful of Democratic lawmakers.
"We should all be able to agree that this debate should be informed by objective data and scientific research," said Rep. David Price (D-N.C.), according to the Post.
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But when it comes to guns, lawmakers are able to agree on very little, and many regulations seem to upend logic. For example, people listed on the suspected terrorist no-fly list are legally able to purchase handguns, sports riffles or automatic assault weapons - and last year 2,000 of them did, reports Newsweek.
In the wake of Wednesday's mass shooting in San Bernadino, could escalating national angst about gun violence finally prompt Congressional lawmakers to repeal the research ban on gun violence? Maybe. Then again, since Wednesday's shooting was only the latest in a series of 203 mass shootings this year, maybe not.