In 1993, a group of researchers published a study that challenged the most basic assumptions of many gun owners: That owning a gun makes you safer.
The study, rigorously conducted by ten credentialed experts, and appearing in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, found instead that the reverse is true. “Although firearms are often kept in homes for personal protection, this study shows that the practice is counter-productive,” the authors wrote. “Our data indicate that keeping a gun in the home is independently associated with an increase in the risk of homicide in the home.”
That pushback from gun-rights supporters sent a not-so-subtle message to the CDC—as well as any other government agency thinking of funding gun violence research, Kellerman said: “You toucha this topic, I breaka your face.”
The result: Nearly two decades later, with Washington mulling gun-violence prevention measures in the wake of last month’s Newtown, Conn. shooting, policymakers find themselves hampered by a lack of objective, scientific information on one of the country’s major public health threats—one which costs the country 31,000 lives and an estimated $100 billion per year. That has left today’s policymakers flying virtually blind.