June 16, 2016
Area(s) of Interest: Public Health
The California legislature voted this week to establish a firearm violence research center at the University of California, filling the gap left by Congressional restrictions on firearms research.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had not touched firearm research since 1996—when the National Rifle Association accused the agency of promoting gun control and Congress threatened to strip the agency’s funding. The CDC’s self-imposed ban dried up a powerful funding source and had a chilling effect felt far beyond the agency that is still lasting today.
“Acts of firearm violence like Sunday’s horrific mass shooting in Orlando leave us searching for answers. California made finding those answers a priority, taking leadership once again where Congress has failed,” said the author of the California bill, Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis). The firearms research bill (SB 1006) was included as part of the 2016-2017 state budget approved by the legislature this week.
“We in California already have benefitted from many years of research done at the UC Davis School of Medicine Violence Prevention Research Center," said Sen. Wolk. "We know that using real data and scientific methods, our best researchers can help policy makers get past the politics and find real answers to this public health crisis to help save lives in California and throughout the country.
The 2016-2017 state budget includes $5 million, to be allocated over a five year period, to establish the California Firearm Violence Research Center. The research center will conduct interdisciplinary research to provide the scientific evidence upon which to base sound firearm violence prevention policies and programs. The center will also work with the legislature and state agencies to identify, implement, and evaluate innovative firearm violence prevention policies and programs.
SB 1006 was sponsored by the American Academy of Pediatrics, California and the American College of Emergency Physicians’ California Chapter, and strongly supported by the California Medical Association (CMA), the public health community, gun violence reduction advocates, law enforcement, bipartisan coauthors and others.
CMA has long advocated for reasonable and responsible gun control legislation that makes our communities safer and hospitals less crowded. California physicians are too often firsthand witnesses to the physical and psychological damage of gun violence.
"Even as 30,000 men, women and children are killed each year by firearms, the federal government prohibits research that could help us as a society determine how best to combat the high rate of firearm related violence," said CMA President Steven E. Larson, M.D., MPH. "SB 1006 creates a research center within the University of California that will allow this state to do this very research and provide California with the analysis it needs to fully address this public health crisis."