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Weinberg-Gill Measure Urging Congress to Repeal Funding Ban for Firearms Research Clears Assembly

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TRENTON – A resolution sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Senator Nia H. Gill urging Congress to repeal the moratorium on federal funding for firearms violence research and to provide funding to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was approved today by the Assembly.

“The CDC has spent millions of dollars to study various illnesses and conditions, from infectious diseases to automobile safety. With horrific acts of gun violence occurring each year, it is shameful that Congress continues to ban funding to the CDC for this important cause,” Senator Weinberg (D-Bergen). “There is no valid justification for inaction. Congress should reinstate the CDC’s ability to conduct research aimed at reducing the incidence and harm from firearms violence.”

“Lifting the ban on funding for research is imperative to addressing this public health crisis,” said Senator Gill (D-Essex/Passaic). “Health organizations have called on Congress to allow the CDC to conduct research to understand the effects of firearms on public health. The refusal of Congress to act demonstrates the power of the NRA which has lobbied for decades to limit funding for this kind of research. Congress should repeal the amendment and restore adequate funding to identify solutions for firearms violence, enhance public safety and prevent future deaths.”

Although the CDC keeps surveillance data on firearm injuries and deaths, it has not funded a comprehensive study aimed at reducing harm from firearms since 2001. The U.S. Congress included language in the 1996 Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 1997, known as the Dickey Amendment, after its author, former U.S. House Representative Jay Dickey (R-AR). The language prohibited the CDC’s appropriations dedicated for injury prevention and control from being used to advocate or promote firearm control, and concurrently reduced the CDC’s budget by $2.6 million which was the amount the CDC had invested in firearm injury research the previous year.

After the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on December 14, 2012, President Barack Obama released his national plan for addressing firearm violence, including an initiative to “end the freeze on gun violence research,” emphasizing that the large number of annual firearm-related homicides and suicides each year clearly is a public health crisis, and asserting that research on firearm violence is not advocacy, but critical to public health research.

Since 2001, no funding has been expended for comprehensive studies aimed at reducing harm from firearms.

The Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR-124) memorializes the United States Congress to repeal the Dickey amendment and fund the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to study firearm violence. The Senate approved the resolution by a vote of 23-15; the Assembly approved it 48-24-4.

Copies of the resolution will be transmitted to the President of the United States, the Vice President of the United States, the Majority and Minority Leader of the United States Senate, the Speaker and Minority Leader of the United States House of Representatives, and to every member of Congress elected from this state.