Senator Markey Queries HHS Secretary About How Congress Can Help Support Gun Violence Prevention Research at CDC

A number of Republican lawmakers have recently voiced support for ending CDC research ban in wake of Parkland mass shooting


Washington (February 22, 2018) – After U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar last week voiced his support for commencing gun violence prevention research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today asked how Congress could be supportive of that effort. A 1996 Republican appropriations rider authored by then-Congressman Jay Dickey (R-Ark.) prohibits federal funds from being used to advocate or promote gun control, which some have misconstrued as a ban on funding federal scientific research into the causes of gun violence. Secretary Azar last week at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing in response to a question from Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) stated: “My understanding is that the rider does not in any way impede our ability to conduct our research mission. We’re in the science business and the evidence-generating business, and so I will have our agency certainly working in this field, as they do across the broad spectrum of disease control and prevention.” In addition to Secretary Azar, several Republican lawmakers, including House Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Rep. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.), Rep. Phil Roe (R-Ten.), and Rep. Mark Walker, (R-N.C.), also have voiced support for federal gun violence prevention research in the days following the Parkland, Florida mass shooting.


Since 2011, Senator Markey has introduced legislation to set aside $60 million to fund gun violence prevention and research at the CDC.


“I applaud your commitment that the Dickey rider will no longer be permitted to stand in the way of CDC gun violence prevention research,” writes Senator Markey in his letter to Secretary Azar. “As a consequence of the rider, policymakers, healthcare practitioners, researchers, and others have lacked comprehensive, scientific information about the causes and characteristics of gun violence or the best strategies to prevent it. The tragedy in Parkland, Florida once again reminds us that it is long past time we change that.”


A copy of the letter can be found HERE.


In the letter, Senator Markey asks Secretary Azar:

  • Should Congress eliminate the Dickey rider from future appropriations bills?
  • What directives have you issued, or do you anticipate issuing, to CDC staff that will empower them to begin gun violence prevention research, and what is the timeline for this research to commence?
  • What are the CDC’s top gun violence prevention research priorities?
  • Has anyone from the White House contacted you concerning the position you articulated on gun violence prevention research?