On Saturday, Feb. 17, the Record printed a photo of some of the concerned citizens who attended a candlelight vigil in response to the recent shooting at Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
The caption accompanying the photo referenced a petition to repeal the Dickey Amendment, which was circulated at the event. The caption reads, in part, “The Dickey Amendment bans gun control promotion or advocacy by the Centers for Disease Control [….]” While this language is taken from the amendment itself, the Record’s decontextualized presentation of it is disingenuous.
While it would have been reasonable for Congress to insist that the CDC not engage in “promotion” or “advocacy” of any agenda, what the Record failed to report is that the 1996 Omnibus spending bill — in which the Dickey Amendment was introduced — further reallocated the entirety of the center’s budget for gun-violence research to the prevention of traumatic brain injury.
Moreover, Congressman Jay Dickey authored the amendment after lobbying by the NRA, which took issue with a 1993 CDC-funded study that found a correlation between the presence of guns in the home and the risk of homicide. Neither the amendment nor its genesis, then, is free of the activism it ostensibly prohibits. Indeed, in the years prior to his death, even Dickey himself lamented the consequences of his amendment, acknowledging that while its intent was merely to disallow activism, its effect has been a wholesale halt to gun-violence research.
To pretend that the Dickey Amendment simply prohibits political advocacy is reductive and, frankly, irresponsible. To politicize a demand for potentially life-saving research funding is obscene. Some of the citizens present at the vigil are gun owners — myself included — and like all responsible gun owners, we believe that the best way to defend the Second Amendment is to demand the tools for understanding and educating ourselves about the rights, responsibilities and risks guns impose. The Record’s commentary on the Dickey Amendment misrepresents that position and undermines the purpose of our petition.