La La La…I Can’t Hear You!

Remember when you were a kid on the playground having an argument, and felt you were losing? Remember sticking your fingers in your ears and going “la la la” as loudly as you could, in order not to hear what the other kid was saying?

Some of you who are reading this were probably  never that childish, and most of the rest of us have since grown up.

All except Congress.

A congressional ban on gun violence research backed by the National Rifle Association (NRA) has been extended in the aftermath of the Charleston church shooting that left 9 people dead.

As Public Radio International (PRI) reported recently, the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee voted to reject an amendment last month that would have allowed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to study the relationship between gun ownership and gun violence.

The purported reason for the ban is that gun deaths are not “diseases.” Neither are cigarettes, but the CDC researches the health effects of tobacco. Guns certainly affect health; guns kill more Americans under 25 than cars. (More than 25% of teenagers ages 15 and older who die of injuries in the US are killed by gun-related injuries.)

The costs of gun violence are staggering: American taxpayers pay roughly $12.8 million every day to cover the costs of gun-related deaths and injuries. Total social costs have been estimated at 100 billion each year. That, of course, excludes the human losses.

The CDC used to conduct firearms safety research, but in 1996, the gun lobby persuaded Congress to restrict CDC funding of gun research; similar restrictions on other federal agencies followed.

Far from hiding its role, the NRA has publicly taken credit for preventing the research. In 2011, it issued a statement :”These junk science studies and others like them are designed to provide ammunition for the gun control lobby by advancing the false notion that legal gun ownership is a danger to the public health instead of an inalienable right.”

The CDC doesn’t do “junk science,” of course. And denying that guns pose a danger to public health is tantamount to an admission of insanity. But facts and evidence pose a special threat to the NRA extremists who no longer even reflect the position of most NRA members.

They can’t put their fingers in their ears, so–like the bullies on those long-ago playgrounds–they’re trying to deprive advocates of sensible gun control measures of data that they know would strengthen those advocates’ arguments.

It’s their version of “la la la–I can’t hear you.”