AERA Joins Science Community to Urge Congress to Support Gun Violence Research
AERA Joins Science Community to Urge Congress to Support Gun Violence Research
March 2018

On March 2, AERA joined the broader science community in calling on Congress to provide dedicated federal funding for research on gun violence. AERA has also asked association members to show their support by signing the March for Science petition and contacting their elected representatives.

The science community’s letter noted: “Gun violence is a public health crisis that, on average, takes the lives of 100 people and injures hundreds more in the United States every day.  In order to address gun violence as the public health issue that it truly is, both the public and our elected officials who serve us need to understand what works to prevent gun violence, and this cannot be accomplished without credible, scientific research.”

“The federal policy that effectively bans the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from conducting gun violence research must be lifted,” said AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine. “For more than 20 years, these restrictions have obstructed the development and implementation of evidence-based policies and programs that can reduce violence and gun-related harm.”

On March 23, Congress approved a federal spending bill that included report language effectively lifting the ban against the CDC, noting, “While appropriations language prohibits the CDC and other agencies from using appropriated funding to advocate or promote gun control, the Secretary of Health and Human Services has stated the CDC has the authority to conduct research on the causes of gun control.”

However, Congress has not appropriated funding for that purpose. 

“Going beyond lifting the ban, Congress needs to boost funding for more high-quality empirical research that can inform evidence-based policies and programs to prevent gun violence in the United States,” said Levine. “We continue to call on Congress to support and promote research-based programs and policies to reduce the risk of violence in communities, schools, workplaces, settings of worship, and other public spaces.”

In a February 15 statement on the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Levine called on policymakers, school leaders, education researchers, and scholars from across all of the sciences, and all citizens, to commit to building upon what we know and investing substantially in the research and data that can allow us to address this issue.

In addition to AERA’s efforts, individual AERA members have been active on the issue of gun violence. The Interdisciplinary Group on Preventing School and Community Violence, which includes several prominent education researchers, has released a Call for Action to Prevent Gun Violence in the United States of America. The call includes individual and organization sign-ons. On March 23, several of same researchers participated in a Capitol Hill briefing that addressed gun violence prevention and school safety, which C-SPAN aired.

AERA continues to stand committed to working with the broad research community, policymakers, and educators to produce the essential science and data that have been stifled for far too long, and will continue to be vocal on this issue.