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Violence Prevention Research

December 1, 2015

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The Honorable Thad Cochran Chairman

Senate Appropriations Committee Room S-128, The Capitol Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Barbara Mikulski Vice Chairwoman

Senate Appropriations Committee Room S-146A, The Capitol Washington, DC 20510


The Honorable Harold Rogers Chairman

House Appropriations Committee Room H-305, The Capitol Washington, DC 20515


The Honorable Nita M. Lowey Ranking Member

House Appropriations Committee

1016 Longworth House Office Building Washington, DC 20515


Dear Chairman Cochran, Vice Chairwoman Mikulski, Chairman Rogers, and Ranking Member Lowey:

As a diverse group of health professional, public health, and child advocacy organizations, we write to urge you to support research investments to address the public health crisis of gun violence.

We urge you to lift the current ban on funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) related to gun violence prevention research. Furthermore, the CDC should be appropriated at least $10 million in FY 2016, along with sufficient new funding at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to support research into the causes and prevention of gun violence.

The dearth of gun violence research has contributed to the lack of meaningful progress in reducing firearm injuries. Firearm injuries are one of the top three causes of death among youthi. The U.S. has one of the highest rates of injuries, suicides and homicides among developed countries. While the rate of gun-related deaths is down from a high of 15 per 100,000 in the mid- 1990s, it has subsequently plateaued since 2000 at 10 per 100,000 and has remained steadyii.

Furthermore, in several states, such as Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Oregon, the rate of gun deaths has already met or exceeded traffic-related deathsiii. This is significant because motor vehicle accidents are one of the top two leading causes of unintentional injury deaths, which is the number one cause of death among individuals ages 1- 44iv.

Research can contribute to fewer lives lost, reductions in injuries and changes in social norms. Federal infrastructures already exist to establish prevention and harm reduction strategies. Since the 1950s, a research-based public health approach has translated extensive research into prevention and systems change and contributed to an 80 percent reduction in motor vehicle fatalities per mile drivenv. Significant research investments could address these issues by helping provide a more accurate understanding of the problems associated with gun violence and to determine how best to reduce the high rate of firearm-related deaths and injuries. Unfortunately, in 1996 Congress eliminated funding for CDC research on gun violence and accompanied the cut with language barring any research that limitations have also drastically limited the workforce of researchers dedicated to gun violence prevention. It is estimated that fewer than 20 academics in the U.S. currently focus on gun violencevi.

In June 2013, the Institute of Medicine released a report outlining a research agenda for addressing firearm-related injuries and deaths as a public health issue. The report highlighted five key areas for research on this topic: characteristics of firearm violence; risk and protective factors; firearm violence prevention and other interventions; the impact of gun safety technology; and video games and other media.  The IOM's report noted that this agenda would be essential in supporting the development of policies to reduce the public health impact of firearms in the same manner as approaches that have found success in other areas, such as motor vehicle safety.

Funding at both CDC and NIH would be an important step toward realizing a robust research agenda and developing public health interventions that could protect children and keep them safe from gun violence. We urge you to provide $10 million in new funding in FY 2016 to support the gun violence, along with sufficient new funding at the National Institutes of Health to further advance this critical research. We also urge members of Congress to oppose any efforts to reduce, eliminate, or condition CDC funding related to gun violence prevention research or critical public health surveillance on violent deaths.

As Congress moves forward with the FY 2016 appropriations process, we welcome the opportunity to work with you on ways to reduce injuries and keep communities safe. For more information, please contact Ami Gadhia at 202-347-8600 or [email protected].




Academic Pediatric Association

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

American Academy of Pediatrics

American College of Physicians

American College of Preventive Medicine

American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

American Pediatric Society

American Psychological Association

American Public Health Association

Association of Medical School Pediatric Department Chairs

Consortium of Social Science Associations

Hepatitis Foundation International

National Association of County and City Health Officials

National Association of State EMS Officials

National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence

National Child Abuse Coalition

National Network of Public Health Institutes

National Violence Prevention Network

Pediatric Policy Council Public Health Institute


Society for Pediatric Research

Society for Public Health Education

Trust for America's Health


i Dowd, D. and Sege, R. (2012). Policy Statement: Firearm-Related Injuries Affecting the Pediatric Population. Pediatrics. 130;5, e1416-e1423. Retrieved from http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/pediatrics/early/2012/10/15/peds.2012-2481.full.pdf

ii Wadman, Meredith. The Gun Fighter. Nature. Vol. 496. April 25, 2013.

iii USA Today, Death rates from guns, traffic accidents converging, January 9, 2013, accessed online at http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/01/09/guns-traffic-deaths-rates/1784595/

iv WISQARS (Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System). Atlanta: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov/ncipc/wisqars).

v Hemenway, David and Miller, Matthew. Public Health Approach to the Prevention of Gun Violence. New England Journal of Medicine. May 23, 2013. 368; 21.

vi Wadman, Meredith. The Gun Fighter. Nature. Vol. 496. April 25, 2013.

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