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The NRA is afraid of the truth

Marian Wright Edelman | 4/7/2013, 7:49 a.m.

(NNPA) Why is the National Rifle Association so afraid of the truth? There are many misconceptions about guns and gun violence swirling around in Americans’ minds ‒ and in many cases, this misinformation is no accident. For years the NRA has blocked the truth and actively fought against and prevented research in the causes and costs of gun violence because they don’t want Americans to know the truth about guns, how to prevent gun violence, and how to make themselves and their children safer. Why else would they have Congress pull gun injury prevention research funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health? Why have we put up so long with efforts to block all research on a huge public health threat that injures and kills tens of thousands of Americans every year?

Dr. Arthur Kellermann and Dr. Frederick Rivara wrote an article titled Silencing the Science on Gun Research in the February 2013 Journal of the American Medical Association. They wrote, “What can be done to reduce the number of US residents who die each year from firearms, currently more than 31,000 annually? … The nation might be in a better position to act if medical and public health researchers had continued to study these issues as diligently as some of us did between 1985 and 1997.”

Instead, they note that beginning in 1996, pro-gun members of Congress began mounting an all-out effort to eliminate any funding for research connected to gun injury prevention. And as Kellermann and Rivara explain, this continued refusal to fund any research isn’t just an academic matter. “Injury prevention research can have real and lasting effects. Over the last 20 years, the number of Americans dying in motor vehicle crashes has decreased by 31 percent. Deaths from fires and drowning have been reduced even more, by 38 percent and 52 percent, respectively. This progress was achieved without banning automobiles, swimming pools or matches. Instead, it came from translating research findings into effective interventions. Given the chance, could researchers achieve similar progress with firearm violence? It will not be possible to find out unless Congress rescinds its moratorium on firearm injury prevention research.”

Why is the NRA afraid of seeking the truth and having citizens make informed decisions about how best to ensure their and their children’s safety? Their concerted campaign to hide the truth and block research is finally facing new scrutiny and opposition. President Obama’s proposed gun safety package would end the freeze on gun injury prevention research although the amounts requested are inadequate. Ignorance is not bliss or sensible or sound policy, and in the case of our national gun violence epidemic, ignorance is actually fatal. We need to make decisions based on the truth and counter the NRA misinformation that has been infecting our nation.

It’s time to challenge and deflate NRA misinformation and recognize that it does not speak for most American gun owners or even the majority of its membership. For example, polling data shows that 85 percent of gun owners and 74 percent of NRA members support universal background checks ‒ a policy position the NRA vehemently opposes.