As the nation seeks to prevent gun violence there's differing opinion on whether more research could help. UW Madison professors were among academics across the nation urging the president to allow government-sponsored gun research.
One of 23 executive actions President Obama took on guns was to lift a virtual ban on government research on the public health effects of gun violence. Thomas Deleire directs UW's LaFollette School of Public Affairs. He was one of more than a hundred U.S. academics who sent a letter to the president's gun violence commission. That letter cited Wisconsin's Oak Creek massacre at a Sikh temple — along with shootings in Colorado and Arizona — as reasons to address gun violence. Deleire says one way to do that is to study it. “It could be the case that many of the claims or some of the claims made by proponents of gun control are overstated. Better research — if one were to believe those things were overstated — better research would show that.”
The National Rifle Association did not respond for this story, but in 2011, the group told the New York Times it opposed research into gun deaths by the Centers for Disease Conrol and National Instiutes of Health. The NRA said such studies are designed to “provide ammunition for the gun control lobby.”
Deleire and others reject that claim. They compare gun research to public health research done on motor vehicles, which led to safer cars and drivers. “From my point of view, it's hard to argue against more research.”
President Obama is asking Congress to approve $10 million to fund gun research. It's unclear whether lawmakers will approve that, but researchers at the CDC will soon have the freedom to examine something they haven't for almost 2 decades.