This Chart Shows How Research on Gun Violence Has Been Gutted

A new study finds that firearms are the least researched major cause of death in America.

BlakeDavidTaylor/iStock

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


The war on research into gun violence began two decades ago when, with the backing of the National Rifle Association, the Republican-controlled Congress effectively killed off federal funding for it. A 1996 appropriation bill banned the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from using any funds to “advocate or promote gun control,” which was interpreted as meaning any type of research on firearms deaths was prohibited. Soon afterwards, other agencies, including the National Institutes of Health, were subject to the same requirements. Twenty years later, there remains a dearth of information on the public-health effects of gun violence, despite the more than 10,000 gun homicides that occur every year and their staggering costs.

Last week, David E. Stark, a physician and professor from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and Nigam H. Shah, a researcher at Stanford University, published a research letter in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) that puts the issue in bleak terms: “In relation to mortality rates, gun violence research was the least-researched cause of death.” Stark and Shah found that just $22 million in federal funds went towards researching gun violence between 2004 and 2015. If it the research had been funded at the same rate as other leading causes of death, gun violence research would have received $1.4 billion, they calculate.

For example, gun violence kills about as many people as sepsis annually. Yet, federal funding for gun violence research was less than 1 percent of that for sepsis over the 11-year period studied. And less common causes of death, including fires, malnutrition, anemia, and viral hepatitis, got much more research funding. “Given that gun violence disproportionately affects the young and inflicts many more nonfatal injuries than deaths, it is likely that the true magnitude of research funding disparity, when considering years of potential life lost or lived with disability, is even greater,” the researchers write.

The chart below shows just how little funding goes to research on gun violence relative to America’s other top causes of death.

JAMA/Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
 

 

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate