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By Samuel Burke, CNN
For years, the U.S. government was researching how to prevent gun violence as an issue of public health and safety.
Then, in 1996, congress voted to severely restrict the program’s funding.
Now President Obama has called for renewed research. Dr. Mark Rosenberg, who ran the research program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says there are four essential questions researchers should ask about gun violence.
“This isn’t complicated esoteric rocket science,” Rosenberg told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday.
For more than sixteen years, the U.S. government has been unable to answer these questions scientifically.
“It means we have been going about it blind,” he said. “You need large studies, large numbers of people and large geographic areas.”
Critics say that the CDC’s gun research had been politically motivated – an accusation Rosenberg rejects.
“Our research says ‘Let’s use science to save lives,” he insisted. “We’re not researching gun control per se. We’re looking at what can be done to research firearms injuries and death.”
According to Ronseberg, that includes a wide range of measures, including how to better detect people with mental illness for instance and how to keep firearms out of their hands.
Rosenberg said Americans should look at the success it had in researching and reducing driving deaths to better understand what more data could mean for gun-related deaths.
In the 1960s, the United States had an epidemic of young people dying on the roads. Rosenberg says that the hundreds of millions of dollars that the government invested in motor vehicle research helped to redesign cars, seatbelts, and airbags, as well as make roads safer.
“It has been a huge success story,” Rosenberg said and he believes that if the funding for research on gun violence is renewed, it could make a tremendous difference.
“Right now we don’t know what type of guns and policies work and it’s a life and death problem,” he said. “We’ve got to find out what works.”
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