The directives on gun violence President Obama signed Wednesday were meant to seem harmless. A closer look at the president’s first memorandum reveals it to be a sneaky assault on congressional authority in order to fund gun-control propaganda.
Getting this done has been on the White House “to do” list for some time. In his 2013 budget submission, Mr. Obama deleted the prohibition that has been in effect since 1995 on the use of federal funds to advocate or promote gun control.
Mr. Obama is trying to steamroll the Democratic and Republican majorities that kept the ban intact by labeling the advocacy as research. “While year after year, those who oppose even modest gun-safety measures have threatened to defund scientific or medical research into the causes of gun violence, I will direct the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to go ahead and study the best ways to reduce it,” said Mr. Obama.
Under the terms of the memo, CDC may “sponsor” another entity to conduct the research, which is a handy way of funneling taxpayer cash to sympathetic gun-control groups.
Earlier this week, anti-gun activists, including New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, spent a lot of time at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore discussing how the government-spending prohibition was hampering their plans.
Daniel Webster, director of the Center for Gun Policy and Research at the school, backed the president’s plan. “I agree that the CDC should be free to fund high-quality research into the causes and solutions to gun violence, one of the leading causes of premature mortality in the U.S. that affects not only deaths and injuries, but mental health as well,” he told The Washington Times.
Congress clamped down on the spending after President Clinton used the CDC and National Institutes of Health to create material advancing his theme of treating gun ownership as a public health issue, rather than a constitutional right. Millions in taxpayer funds were blown on junk science, such as $2.6 million used to determine if teenagers who are shot are more likely to have been drinking and carrying a gun. An additional $2 million went to figure out whether moving bars and liquor stores would prevent gun violence in communities.
By calling gun violence a “public health crisis” on Wednesday, Mr. Obama echoed Mr. Clinton’s model. It’s a move that could cost lives, as shifting funding away from fighting disease creates severely misplaced priorities. In 2010, 780,213 Americans died from cardiovascular disease and 574,743 from cancer, compared with 11,078 firearm homicides.
Under the Bush administration, the CDC already conducted a two-year independent study of the laws, including bans on specified firearms or ammunition; gun registration; concealed-weapon carry; and zero-tolerance for firearms in schools. The scientists concluded in 2003 that there was “insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of any of the firearms laws reviewed for preventing violence.”
Congress must reassert itself and override this executive action so that more tax dollars aren’t wasted. If Mr. Bloomberg wants more propaganda, he can pay for it out of his own deep pockets.
Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.