Barack Obama, Gun Control — June 14, 2016 at 3:30 pm

The magic words every candidate should say: ‘We must study gun violence’


The GOP is using the worst kind of ‘political correctness’ to keep us from doing anything to reduce gun deaths

President Obama is sick of you pretending that we can crush ISIL by just employing the perfect slur.

“What exactly would using this label accomplish?” he asked. “What exactly would it change? Would it make ISIL less committed to kill Americans? Would it bring in more allies? Is there a military strategy that is served by this? The answer is none of the above.”

It’s obvious he’s angered by Donald Trump and conservatives pressing him toward language that implicates 1.6 billion Muslims in the ISIL’s crimes.

And it’s a brave stand.

Demonizing Muslims polls well, especially among Republicans. But the president understands that by the group’s entire aim is to erase “the gray zone” where Islam can co-exist with the world. And if you look at the psychology of new recruits — who are drawn to the adventure and glory of the cause — it makes perfect sense to avoid doing anything that encourages the fantasy that ISIL actually is provoking a global clash of civilizations.

But there are some words he’s saying that really matter.

You probably saw this clip of the president trying to explain to a gun owner that he didn’t want law-abiding gun owners guns. He just wanted to be able to treat gun violence for what it is — a deadly and hugely perplexing combination of a public health and national security issue. And he very nearly predicted exactly the kind of horror we saw in Orlando:

But Congress won’t allow that.

Last year, the president ended the official ban on the Centers for Disease Control studying gun violence in 2013. Nothing changed because Congress won’t fund new research.

And the right’s hard line stance has a chilling effect across all of academia, the Washington Post explained.

The CDC was not alone in avoiding firearm studies. The National Institute of Justice, an arm of the U.S. Department of Justice, funded 32 gun-related studies from 1993 to 1999, but none from 2009-2013, according to Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Private nonprofits, with some notable exceptions such as the Joyce Foundation, skipped over gun-related research proposals.

“Sponsors were spooked to fund stuff that had to do with guns,” said Swanson at Duke. He said younger colleagues got the message: Studying firearms was not a way to attract vital grant funding. It was a field without a future.

Could studying gun violence the way we do smoking and car accidents change this nation? Maybe!

The city of Wilmington, Delaware sidestepped the controversy by directly requesting that the CDC look at an outbreak of murders involving guns.

“The CDC’s research helped show that its analysis can help identify persons most at risk of perpetrating or being victimized by gun violence,” Rita Landgraf, the Delaware secretary of health and social services, said in a statement.

The NRA’s stance is that in order to preserve absolute freedom it cannot allow the government to even try to do something about the 10,000 homicides and 22,000 other gun deaths every year. And it enforces this policy with what I would call “real political correctness.”

The right often accuses “the regressive left” of trying to limit debate, when what they’re actually objecting to is the expansion of rights to LGBT people or college students, people with almost no actual institutional power, organizing against what they see as hate. Maybe students’ eagerness toward justice goes too far on occasion — but their influence is minuscule to the most powerful lobbies in America.

“Real political correctness” is the right using its actual real power to destroy the careers of academics who dare study forbidden topics like gun violence and climate science. And its starving the discourse by cutting off the most important funder of academic research in America — the government.

Democrats focusing on the need to study gun violence can build a sensible case for gun safety legislation. We genuinely don’t know what works. We don’t know exactly why gun murders have actually declined in the last two decades — beginning coincidentally right around the time the first background checks went into law — because the NRA won’t even let us research it.

That’s right: The NRA doesn’t want us to know what works when it comes to fighting gun violence because it is afraid we’ll do more of it. How sick is that?

Most Americans support universal background checks and probably support an assault weapons ban. Neither is going to happen in the current political environment unless NRA-backed politicians in swing states and districts lose. And the way to start making that argument is to let people know how far the right is going to make sure we can’t keep guns out of the wrong hands.