Opinion: The Dickey Amendment and Gun Control
By David Le ’19, Student Volunteer & Advocacy Projects Coordinator (NYC Campus)
Guns and America are like peanut butter and jelly; they seem inseparable. But pair gun control and America? Everyone is SHOOK.
Recently, I researched the Dickey Amendment for the CCAR’s Take Action! series. Two of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history occurred this year in Texas (27 killed, 21 injured) and Las Vegas (59 killed, 441 injured). With all of the unfortunate gun violence incidents that have taken place in the United States of America in 2017, the Dickey Amendment is an important topic to discuss and create awareness about within the Pace community.
The Dickey Amendment was introduced by Rep. Jay Dickey in 1997, declaring that any funds made available for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention could not be used to advocate or promote gun control. Its passage has effectively made it impossible for federal scientists to do any research on gun violence, because any research whose findings even HINT at gun control as a solution risks losing funding for the project as well as researchers’ jobs. Jay Dickey recently stated that he regretted pushing this amendment, which is understandable considering how many gun related incidents have occurred in 2017 alone.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, as of December 5th, 2017 there have been a total of 56,998 gun violence incidents and a report of 326 mass shootings in 2017. When I hosted the Take Action! Table on November 13th, the total of gun related incidents was 53,043, and mass shootings totaled 310. Let it sink in your mind how much the numbers of gun related incidents and mass shootings increased in less than a month. 326 mass shootings in 2017 so far – that’s almost one mass shooting for EACH DAY of the year.
So how does America plan to protect children from gun violence?
It’s disheartening and absurd to witness that one solution for school shootings and protecting children from an active shooter is offering Kevlar panels to put in children’s school backpacks (I’m calling you out, Florida). Listen up, America: children shouldn’t even need to find themselves in a position in which they would need to protect themselves from an active shooter. The problem comes from the root, which is lack of gun control. Even if legal gun control begins, the government would still have to tackle the black market that holds and sells illegal weapons.
TL;DR, the United States has a gun violence problem, and the Dickey Amendment is preventing research that could point us in the direction of how to solve it. But YOU can help! Take action by signing this petition that calls to end the Dickey Amendment so that research on gun violence can be conducted with federal funding. Gun violence is a public health problem and only once we realize that as a country can improvement for our safety – and the safety of the future – be ensured.