Back in 1996, the National Rifle Association essentially wrote into federal law the Dickey Amendment, effectively barring the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from using government dollars to study the impact of gun violence, which now kills more people every year than traffic crashes.

And that’s the way it’s been until now.

Tucked in with lots of other provisions in the $1.4 trillion federal spending bill is $25 million for research on the impact of firearms on health. The money, half for the CDC and half for the National Institutes of Health, is the first public investment in this vital area since the Dickey Amendment was passed.

The NRA insists that the restrictions remains in place, as the CDC and NIH cannot advocate for gun control. That’s fine; there are plenty of people and groups to promote the obvious solutions of tighter restrictions on access to firearms and ammunition. Let the expert scientists delve deep into the root causes of the bloodshed by firearm; their studies will point the way to policy solutions.

Rep. Jay Dickey, R-Ark., recanted his own amendment before he died in 2017. He realized that his rider was contrary to science and public health and helped only the NRA, while doing nothing to protect the rights of gun owners. Now his former colleagues in Congress have recognized the same thing.

Good luck to the CDC and NIH in getting back into the business of studying this deadly scourge. There are lives to be saved.


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