Gun violence has become the leading cause of death for young people in the United States, and the federal government needs to dedicate resources commensurate with the scale of the challenge. In contrast to other leading causes of death, such as car crashes or sepsis, the federal government spends pennies on the dollar researching ways to prevent gun deaths, Asheley Van Ness, Arnold Ventures director of criminal justice, wrote in the Houston Chronicle this week.
“In fact, the U.S. spends roughly $1,000 per motor vehicle death studying ways to make our streets safer,” Van Ness wrote. “In comparison, we only spend $63 per firearm death studying ways to save lives from gun violence.”
Her letter was in response to an editorial that compared community gun violence to drunk driving and pointed to Mothers Against Drunk Driving as a potential model for making progress.
“We tend to ignore the more mundane, more common form of the crisis: gun-related deaths and injuries that occur one at a time, day after day, in Houston and Harris County and across the nation,” the Houston Chronicle editorial board wrote.
However, due to the 1996 Dickey Amendment, Congress effectively prohibited the federal government from researching gun policies. While Congress has removed that prohibition, policymakers are left with a two-decade evidence gap about effective, life-saving policies. A study supported by Arnold Ventures and the Joyce Foundation has estimated it will take approximately $600 million over five years to bridge that gap.
“It isn’t enough to get mad about gun violence,” Van Ness wrote. “Change starts with adequate funding for research, or else policymakers may end up spending time and money on programs that simply don’t work.”
Read the letter here: Opinion: To tackle gun violence, we need to put our money where our mouth is
It’s Time to Stop Just Talking About Gun Violence and Invest in Saving Lives
Arnold Ventures explains the current landscape of gun violence in the U.S. — and the three things we can do right now to save lives while preserving Second Amendment rights.