Read this today in the local paper. Made me laugh. Then cringe. What would a world be like with truth??? http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/26/us/26guns.html?_r=1&hp In the wake of the shootings in Tucson, the familiar questions inevitably resurfaced: Are communities where more people carry guns safer or less safe? Does the availability of high-capacity magazines increase deaths? Do more rigorous background checks make a difference? Rich Addicks for The New York Times Mark Rosenberg, former director of the National Center for Injury Control and Prevention, in his office in Decatur, Ga. Related In Firearms Research, Cause Is Often the Missing Element (January 26, 2011) Times Topics: Arizona Shooting | National Rifle Association Related in Opinion Room For Debate: More Guns, Less Crime? The reality is that even these and other basic questions cannot be fully answered, because not enough research has been done. And there is a reason for that. Scientists in the field and former officials with the government agency that used to finance the great bulk of this research say the influence of the National Rife Association has all but choked off money for such work. Weve been stopped from answering the basic questions, said Mark Rosenberg, former director of the National Center for Injury Control and Prevention, part of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which was for about a decade the leading source of financing for firearms research. Chris Cox, the N.R.A.s chief lobbyist, said his group had not tried to squelch genuine scientific inquiries, just politically slanted ones. Our concern is not with legitimate medical science, Mr. Cox said. Our concern is they were promoting the idea that gun ownership was a disease that needed to be eradicated. The amount of money available today for studying the impact of firearms is a fraction of what it was in the mid-1990s, and the number of scientists toiling in the field has dwindled to just a handful as a result, researchers say. The dearth of money can be traced in large measure to a clash between public health scientists and the N.R.A. in the mid-1990s. At the time, Dr. Rosenberg and others at the C.D.C. were becoming increasingly assertive about the importance of studying gun-related injuries and deaths as a public health phenomenon, financing studies that found, for example, having a gun in the house, rather than conferring protection, significantly increased the risk of homicide by a family member or intimate acquaintance. Alarmed, the N.R.A. and its allies on Capitol Hill fought back. The injury center was guilty of putting out papers that were really political opinion masquerading as medical science, said Mr. Cox, who also worked on this issue for the N.R.A. more than a decade ago. Initially, pro-gun lawmakers sought to eliminate the injury center completely, arguing that its work was redundant and reflected a political agenda. When that failed, they turned to the appropriations process. In 1996, Representative Jay Dickey, Republican of Arkansas, succeeded in pushing through an amendment that stripped $2.6 million from the disease control centers budget, the very amount it had spent on firearms-related research the year before. Its really simple with me, Mr. Dickey, 71 and now retired, said in a telephone interview. We have the right to bear arms because of the threat of government taking over the freedoms that we have. The Senate later restored the money but designated it for research on traumatic brain injury. Language was also inserted into the centers appropriations bill that remains in place today: None of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control. The prohibition is striking, firearms researchers say, because there are already regulations that bar the use of C.D.C. money for lobbying for or against legislation. No other field of inquiry is singled out in this way. In the end, researchers said, even though it is murky what exactly is allowed under this provision and what is not, the upshot is clear inside the centers: the agency should tread in this area only at its own peril. They had a near-death experience, said Dr. Arthur Kellermann, whose study on the risks versus the benefits of having guns in the home became a focal point of attack by the N.R.A. In the years since, the C.D.C. has been exceedingly wary of financing research focused on firearms. In its annual requests for proposals, for example, firearms research has been notably absent. Gail Hayes, spokeswoman for the centers, confirmed that since 1996, while the agency has issued requests for proposals that include the study of violence, which may include gun violence, it had not sent out any specifically on firearms.