Dickey, who is now retired, said Wednesday that his real concern was the researcher who led that gun ownership study, who Dickey described as being “in his own kingdom or fiefdom” and believing guns are bad.
He and Rosenberg said they have modified their views over time and now both agree that research is needed. They put out a joint statement Wednesday urging research that prevents firearm injuries while also protecting the rights “of legitimate gun owners.”
“We ought to research the whole environment, both sides — what the benefits of having guns are and what are the benefits of not having guns,” Dickey said. “We should study any part of this problem,” including whether armed guards at schools would help, as the National Rifle Association has suggested.
Association officials did not respond to requests for comment. A statement Wednesday said the group “has led efforts to promote safety and responsible gun ownership” and that “attacking firearms” is not the answer. It said nothing about research.
The 1996 law “had a chilling effect. It basically brought the field of firearm-related research to a screeching halt,” said Benjamin of the Public Health Association.
Webster said researchers like him had to “partition” themselves so whatever small money they received from the CDC was not used for anything that could be construed as gun policy. One example was a grant he received to evaluate a community-based program to reduce street gun violence in Baltimore, modeled after a successful program in Chicago called CeaseFire. He had to make sure the work included nothing that could be interpreted as gun control research, even though other privately funded research might.
Private funds from foundations have come nowhere near to filling the gap from lack of federal funding, Hargarten said. He and more than 100 other doctors and scientists recently sent Vice President Joe Biden a letter urging more research, saying the lack of it was compounding “the tragedy of gun violence.”