Posted June 20, 2016on:
Good afternoon wonderful denizens of Widdershinlandia. Prolix here. For those of you expecting the activist stylings of MB on this fine Monday, she is deluged with work and family business. To quote Lt. Aldo Raine from Inglourious Basterds, “And cousin, business is a-boomin’!”
For the next six weeks or so, MB is going to be spread thin. She will be around as much as her schedule will allow, but I will be posting on Mondays. Beyond that the weekly schedule will pretty much remain the same. So let’s get at it.
Picture this: It’s 1960 – the height of the Mad Men era. Skinny ties and big hair abound on Madison Avenue.
You tune in one of the three television networks and you hear a debate between an automobile executive and Ralph Nader. Nader calls for reform within the auto industry to make cars safer through redesign. The auto exec replies with, “Cars don’t kill people, bad drivers do. Why should responsible car companies have to suffer for what irresponsible drivers do? Our drivers are responsible drivers. People like our cars just like they are. They don’t want them to change. People have a right to drive like they want.”
This argument rages on for a few years, culminating in 1966 with the passage of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act. The legislation mandated a series of safety features for automobiles such as safety belts and stronger windshields. This was a historic shift in responsibility for automobile safety from the consumer to the government.
Here’s what I didn’t know and it now seems impossible; Congress passed this legislation unanimously. Huh? Impossible! What is this concept of unanimity of which you speak? Congress is incapable of such a feat.
Once upon a time, it was possible. In a time far, far away, in a galaxy where Congress cared more about health and safety than campaign contributions, it was possible.
During this time, over 50,000 people a year were dying on America’s roads. And what is really depressing, even with the legislation it took until 1980 before the number of deaths began a steady decline. The reason, there were older, deadlier cars on the road that had not yet cycled out of the stream of commerce.
This little jaunt down memory lane isn’t about cars. It is about guns – not just about safety, but about congressional ability to act when it had incontrovertible facts placed before it. Therein lies the rub.
Since 1996, the NRA has effectively stopped all research on guns. It has stopped the collection of data and the funding regarding any weaponry investigation. This moratorium grew from the passage of the appropriately named Dickey Amendment effectively abolishing CDC research on guns.
From the standpoint of the NRA, this was smart. How could you say there is a problem with guns if there is no federal research saying there is a problem? Unlike the experience with automobiles in the 1960s, there could be no shift from the consumer to the government if there was nothing upon which to base the change.
Here’s the forehead slapping discovery – the reason the NRA said research should stop:
The NRA sought the ban because it claimed previous gun-violence studies were biased. But what it fears most is an honest search for facts and truth. Since 2011, the gun lobby has even backed state laws prohibiting doctors from asking if a patient owns a gun or keeps it out of reach of children.
This ostrich mentality regarding research ran headlong into the American Medical Association last week.
The nation’s largest doctor group, calling gun violence a “public health crisis” said Wednesday it will “lobby Congress to overturn legislation that for 20 years has prohibited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from researching gun violence.”
The decision by the AMA’s policy-making House of Delegates puts the doctor group at odds with the National Rifle Association (NRA) and Republicans in Congress. The move is significant given the AMA represents practically every state and national physician association in the country.
When you look at a list of the most deadly mass shootings and their increasing frequency, having no research upon which to base answers is asinine craziness at its zenith. Even Jay Dickey, the former Republican representative who led the bill through Congress, has openly expressed his regret for helping the ban advance.
Ignorance can’t be the basis upon which public policy is based.
How do I know this subject is current, hip, and happening? Last night while writing this, John Oliver did a segment about this very subject. I’m including a couple of videos that have been posted this morning. Playback on websites other than youtube has been disabled so you will have to click through to watch.
As John Oliver says, “We can’t ever allow any opportunity to pass without telling legislators, repeatedly, time and again, fund the research into gun violence.”
What’s on your mind today?
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