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WASHINGTON, D.C. — As lawmakers on Capitol Hill called loudly for more funding to study the effects of gun ownership on public health, a new study in a leading medical journal indicated that states with higher gun ownership rates see higher rates of deaths from mass shootings. The two developments, though unrelated, suggest a growing desire to treat and potentially regulate guns the way cigarettes have been — as a dangerous, volatile element of American public life.
The new study on mass shootings, in particular, seems to call into question whether guns do make people safer. That does not appear to be the case on the whole, according to the study, “State gun laws, gun ownership, and mass shootings in the US: cross sectional time series,” published in the British Medical Journal and authored by researchers from Columbia University, New York University and other institutions.
Gun rights advocates have long held that mass shootings could only be prevented by the proverbial “good guy with a gun.” But the new study finds that, in fact, states with less restrictive gun laws are more likely to experience mass shootings, defined as a shooting in which four people or more were killed.
“States with more permissive gun laws and greater gun ownership have higher rates of mass shootings,” the researchers conclude. “There is a growing divergence in recent years as rates of mass shootings in restrictive states have decreased and those in permissive states have increased.”
The worst shooting in American history — the murder of 58 people at a country music concert in Las Vegas — took place in a state, Nevada, with a notorious lack of restrictions on gun ownership. The second-deadliest shooting — that claimed the lives of 49 at a nightclub in Orlando — happened in another state, Florida, known for its gun-related permissiveness.
The researchers also find a clear correlation between looser laws, the resultant increase in gun ownership and the subsequent rise in mass shootings. “A 10% increase in gun ownership was associated with an approximately 35% higher rate of mass shootings after adjusting for key factors,” they found.
Just as members of the media and the American public were digesting the study, Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill were calling for federal funding of similar work.
“We need to be providing public dollars for gun violence research,” said Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., chairwoman of the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, which has oversight over the federal budget. Federally funded research into gun violence is currently prevented by the Dickey Amendment, a 1996 measure named for Rep. Jay Dickey, R-Ark.
The logic behind the Dickey Amendment is that we shouldn’t be wasting taxpayer money on gun violence research; that we have far better things to spend it on. . . like what? A useless and unneeded wall along our southern border? Trips to Mar A Lago? Presidential trips to hurricane ravaged areas so that Trump can throw paper towels at victims?
Those are but a very few of the wasteful spending by our government.
". . . those who claim to know the Mind of God, who will tell you what God thinks and how He will judge and condemn others—those people are the greatest of all blasphemers." Aloysius Xingu Leng Pendergast
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