Senate Democrats are asking the National Institutes of Health to resume conducting research on gun violence after funding lapsed early this year.
“In spite of the toll of gun violence on Americans’ health and safety, a dearth of scientific research has hindered efforts to reduce gun-related fatalities and injuries,” they wrote in a letter sent Wednesday to NIH Director Francis Collins.
The initial research began after a gunman killed 26 children and teachers as well as himself at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012. Early the following year, former President Barack Obama directed the Department of Health and Human Services to “conduct or sponsor research into the causes of gun violence and the ways to prevent it.”
In response to the order, NIH from 2014 to 2017 issued $18 million in funding for 22 research projects, which looked at suicide-related risks as well as why people become violent. The funding lapsed Jan. 8 and would need to be renewed for it to resume.
Senators said last week’s mass shooting in Las Vegas, which resulted in 59 deaths and more than 500 injuries, was the impetus for their request, though they also noted that 30,000 gun-related deaths occur each year, two-thirds of which are suicides.
“With 93 Americans dying per day from gun-related fatalities, it is critical that NIH dedicate a portion of its resources to the public health consequences of gun violence,” the senators wrote.
In their letter, they pointed to the Dickey Amendment, a 1996…