Responding to the first time in more than 20 years that Congress has appropriated money for gun violence research, Ernest Coverson, the End Gun Violence campaign manager at Amnesty International USA said:
“This is a long overdue step in the right direction, but there is so much more we can do. Communities have the power to end gun violence, but they need long term financial and political support. Actions – including funding — speak louder than words, and today Congress finally sent a clear message that financial resources must be a vital part of addressing the gun violence epidemic in this country.
“Our leaders can go even further to addressing this human rights crisis, by doubling or tripling financial support for conducting evidence-based research on the causes and effects of gun violence, and developing and funding viable strategies for gun violence prevention.”
Background and context
In March 2019, Amnesty International USA sent its top funding priorities to Congress, which included the request that Congress robustly fund evidence-based research on causes and effects of gun violence in order to research and develop viable strategies for gun violence prevention and to inform policy making aimed at reducing firearm related deaths and injuries. In May of 2019, Amnesty International USA members from across the country came to D.C. to push the Senate to pass The Gun Violence Prevention Research Act (S. 184) and in August, AIUSA called on Congress to reconvene for an emergency session and work on funding gun violence prevention research. Amnesty’s members sent letters to the House and Senate, and calls for funding were a part of advocacy action throughout of the year, including a top ask at Amnesty International USA’s 2019 Lobby Day.
In its report, “In the Line of Fire: Human Rights and the U.S. Gun Violence Crisis,” Amnesty International examined the restrictions of federal legislation, known as the Dickey Amendment, which has worked to restrict federal funding for firearm research through publicly-funded entities. These restrictions have had a substantial negative effect on gun violence research and, for over two decades, researchers, policy makers, and experts have been inadequately resourced to fill huge gaps in knowledge about the causes, consequences, and prevention of gun violence in the U.S. While Congress did clarify in a 2018 appropriations bill that the Dickey Amendment should not be interpreted to prevent the CDC from studying the causes and effects of gun violence, it had not allocated any funding for the research.
The report also examined how the U.S. has failed to fund research and development of all potential mechanisms of firearms safety to inform evidence-based policymaking aimed at reducing firearms violence, and/ or to allow the release of identifying information regarding firearm acquisition, possession and use, for purposes of conducting further firearm research on gun violence prevention policies. Amnesty International USA called on the United States Congress to repeal the Dickey Amendment, to fund gun violence prevention research, and to pass legislation which supports the implementation and sustained funding of evidence based violence reduction and prevention programs.
Media contact: Mariya Parodi, [email protected]