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Post date: May 24 2016

A.G. Schneiderman Joins Multistate Effort Urging Congress To Address Gun Violence

Letter Calls For Immediate Action To Allow CDC-Funded Research Into Gun Injuries And Deaths 

Schneiderman: Gun Violence Is A Health Epidemic That Demands Congressionally-Funded CDC Research

NEW YORKAttorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that he has joined a multistate coalition urging Congress to immediately fund research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) into the causes and prevention of gun related injuries and death.

In 1996, Congress included a provision in the annual appropriations bill prohibiting the use of any CDC funds “to advocate or promote gun control.” In an effort led by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, Attorney General and 11 other attorneys general, sent a letter today calling for Congress not only to eliminate the annual rider that blocks gun research efforts, but also to direct funding for the CDC to study the causes of gun violence. The goal is to help determine the most effective prevention strategies. 

“Gun violence in the United States is not a political issue; it’s a health epidemic,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “It is unacceptable that while we are forced to bury 33,000 people every year, Congress’s only response is to direct the CDC to bury it’s head in the sand.  The CDC should once again study the causes, effects and strategies to prevent gun violence, and Congress should fully fund this potentially life-saving research.”

Analyses of prevention measures, such as counseling by healthcare providers, and scientific research into the root cause and psychology of gun violence are needed to help reduce the number of gun violence victims. Unfortunately, while more than half a million Americans have died by firearms over the past twenty years, federal funding for gun violence research has been cut by 96 percent. In their letter, the attorneys general state that sidelining the CDC severely limits data collection and discourages public health professionals from working in this field. 

According to the letter, nearly 33,000 people die every year in the United States from gun violence. Unintentional shootings account for 600 more deaths annually. Gun violence also disproportionately affects communities of color, as African Americans are nearly twice as likely to be injured or killed by guns as white individuals. 

Quelling the gun violence epidemic has long been a priority for Attorney General Schneiderman, whose office has seized 355 guns and arrested 24 gun traffickers.  His office drafted a set of "Model Gun Show Procedures,” which covers every known gun show operator statewide. The Model Gun Show Procedures are the result of an investigation which involved undercover work at six gun shows in Erie, Genesee, Saratoga, Schoharie, Suffolk and Washington counties. Undercover investigators told ten gun sellers that they had orders of protection against them and could not pass a background check. Despite this, all ten were able to purchase guns at the shows and leave the show grounds without being subjected to a background check.

In September 2013, the office launched a statewide gun buyback program. To date, there have been ten events across the state, and over 1,100 firearms have been turned into law enforcement.  In March of 2014, the office reached agreements with Facebook and Instagram, who agreed to remove reported user posts that seek to circumvent gun laws, take action to prevent minors from viewing posts that aim to sell firearms, and provide education to better inform law-abiding private sellers of guns.