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Edelman writes: "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?"

Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children's Defense Fund. (photo: John F. Kennedy Library Foundation)
Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children's Defense Fund. (photo: John F. Kennedy Library Foundation)

What the NRA Doesn't Want You to Know

By Marian Wright Edelman, Reader Supported News

01 April 13


hy 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 on 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?

As Drs. Arthur Kellermann and Frederick Rivara write in the February 2013 Journal of the American Medical Association article “Silencing the Science on Gun Research”:

What can be done to reduce the number of U.S. 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, 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 Drs. 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 now.

The NRA argues that background checks don’t work. The reality is that criminal background checks do work and making them universal at the federal level would make them far more effective. Since its implementation in 1994, the Brady Law, which instituted a federal background check requirement for sales through licensed dealers, has denied 2.1 million applications to purchase a firearm. But its impact has been limited by the ability of criminals to access firearms through private sales, since only sales by federally licensed dealers require a background check; unlicensed dealers, including those at gun shows and on the internet and other private sales do not. An analysis by Mayors Against Illegal Guns reveals that states that don’t require background checks for handgun sales at gun shows export guns used to commit crimes 2.5 times more often than states that do. As much as 40 percent of gun sales may be occurring through these private sales—a loophole that common sense and the vast majority of Americans demand we fix.

Another bit of misinformation from the NRA is that universal background checks will lead to a registry of gun owners. The Brady Law explicitly bans the creation of a gun owner registry, and under that law instant criminal background checks have been made on over 100 million gun sales in the last decade without leading to the formation of a gun registry. Here again, misinformation has paralyzed effective gun safety protections. The vast majority of responsible gun owners support background checks because they know that the only people who will be negatively impacted are criminals and those who sell them firearms.

Please do your homework and decide for yourself. Educate yourself on what the NRA wants you to believe by reading the Children’s Defense Fund’s updated fact sheet “The Truth About Guns.” During this Easter recess, go to your members of Congress’ town hall meetings and let your members know that the time to be held hostage to the NRA lobby is over. Let’s break the NRA lock on the research door to learn and share the truth about the human, economic and public safety costs of gun violence in our nation. I believe the truth will set us free.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner


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+36 # Willman 2013-04-01 18:52
No different than the repubs banning the knowledge of fracking fluids. or the clean water act or GMO's in the food chain.
+14 # L. Sabransky 2013-04-02 01:32
Great article. I have read this info. Many times in various places, but this makes it clear & easy to remember. I am saving to refer to and so should others! In my state, we are being forced to enact a conceal/carry law. I have been on many posts arguing with others over this. Often, I am the lone voice invoking facts and reason, such as what Ms. Edelman provides.

It gets a little frustrating telling folks that we are in the majority when it's not so evident in social media, or to our elected officials. I spoke with my state senator who believes in greater regulations - she was practically begging me to get others to make calls to their reps.

So, to the majority: please make the effort to be as loud and louder than the few who are tools of the NRA. One if them told me recently that "30,000 deaths a year really isn't a lot." I told him his desensitization to violence is pathological & he should seek professional help... If you don't speak up NOW, and until we win on this, you let others like the guy above speak for you.
+6 # RMDC 2013-04-02 05:04
Thanks, this is good and informative. There is a very long list of subject that the right wing has suppressed good science on. Global climate change is a main one. Cancer in another. AIDS is huge. Alternative energy is there. The mental effects of war is at the top.

In the novel 1984, one of the slogans of Engcoc is "Ignorance is Strength." Nothing could be more true about the US. The first technique of thought control is the destruction of history and science. THat's the mission of the corporate parties (both reps and dems) in the US.

This article ends at the right place. People must educate themselves. Use their common sense. Do their own research. They cannot generally rely on the knowledge industries (often in universities) that are supported by government and corporate funding. They won't fund research that might produce knowledge that runs against their "strength."

I make it a habit to check the funders of any "research" I read. Often it is quite revealing. There are many huge foundations that support the production of false knowledge. After a while, you can spot them pretty easily.
+7 # dick 2013-04-02 05:24
Senate Democrats need to look at Connecticut proposals & find the courage to take on the NRA, & Wall St. Elizabeth Warren, where are you & the lady Democrats? FORCE Reid-Obama to follow YOU.
-7 # RLF 2013-04-02 05:56
Blaming guns alone and not the society that makes the military heroes or the gangstahs that get glorified in popular music, or military video games created just to desensitize children to killing, is just simple minded. A lot of parents that allow this nonsense to continue are a big part of the problem. A population that has been driven to the edge of revolution by unresponsive government puts a whole lot of blame on the politicians. When the left starts shooting is when we really need to start worrying.
+2 # indian weaver 2013-04-02 08:05
When the Left starts shooting is when we really will begin to celebrate.
-12 # switch 2013-04-02 11:15
The NRA does not object to impartial research. It objects to groups like CDC that uses our tax money for 'research' that is predetermined to 'find' for gun control.
30K deaths? 2/3's were suicide. 11K murders? 8K were gang bangers defending their turf. That leaves about 2+K. Still too many but what is the gov doing about it? Attacking gangs?
Background checks have prevented criminals from getting guns? Puhleeze. 2+ million denials? How many were prosecuted for these felonies? about 60. How many convicted? less than 20. Our VP said we do not have the resources to prosecute all these 'paperwork' felonies. So, the answer is to create more felons we cannot prosecute?
This article is so slanted, it is ludicrous.
I'm curious if RSN will allow my comments to show? Are they interested in a dialog or just in lectures?
+4 # Texas Aggie 2013-04-02 17:46
How exactly would you define impartial research if you claim that the CDC is not impartial? Something paid for by the gun manufacturers?

"Are they interested in a dialog or just in lectures?"

Are YOU interested in a dialogue or just harangues?
+4 # Texas Aggie 2013-04-02 17:49
The gun industry/NRA doesn't want research into gun deaths for the same reason that the tobacco industry opposed research into the connection between smoking and cancer and heart attacks. It would cost them money. That people died because of their intransigence is irrelevant as long as they aren't the ones dying.

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