October 01, 2020

Duckworth, Durbin Announce Federal Funding For Gun Violence Prevention Research


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) today announced that Northwestern University has been awarded more than $500,000 in federal funding from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to study the effects of gun violence. This is the first time in more than 20 years that federal funding has been appropriated for research related to firearm violence prevention at the CDC after Congress passed the Dickey Amendment in 1996, which effectively banned federal research on the topic.

“In Chicago, Illinois and across the nation, far too many lives have been tragically cut short by gun violence,” Duckworth said.  “Those who have lost family members, friends and neighbors are often also forced to bear the burden of systemic racism that causes public health challenges and chronic underinvestment in their communities. After a 20 year freeze on firearm research funding, I’m proud to announce this important federal investment to help Northwestern University in its research on violence prevention. I’ll keep working alongside Senator Durbin to help Illinois develop strategies to save more lives.”

“Gun violence in the United States is a public health crisis and it’s long past time we start treating it like one. After a senseless two-decade drought, I’m pleased to have worked to lift the federal restriction on providing some of our brightest researchers with the support needed to study and develop strategies to reduce gun violence,” Durbin said. “Senator Duckworth and I applaud Northwestern University for its work and will continue advocating for federal investments that will help prevent gun violence and save lives.”

“We need science to guide violence prevention and drive policy.  And science cannot proceed without funding.  The Gun Violence Prevention Research Act will redress the current imbalance in funding.   Although firearm violence is the second leading cause of death in adolescence, over 50 times more scientific articles are published on childhood cancer -- the fifth leading cause of death.   And poor urban children – particularly racial/ethnic minorities – have been disproportionately the victims of this imbalance,” said Dr. Linda A. Teplin, Owen L. Coon Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Director of the Health Disparities and Public Policy Program at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.

Today’s funding is part of $25 million Congress included in the Fiscal Year 2020 appropriations bill to support gun violence research at the CDC and National Institutes of Health (NIH). Previous federal funding for gun violence research had been restricted since 1996, when Congressman Jay Dickey (R-AR)—with backing by the National Rifle Association and gun lobby—included a rider in a spending bill to prohibit CDC from using funds “to advocate or promote gun control.”

Duckworth and Durbin are cosponsors of the Gun Violence Prevention Research Act, which authorizes funding for the CDC to conduct research on firearms safety and gun violence, and have led efforts with the Senate Appropriations Committee to include funding for this purpose.