People across the political spectrum acknowledge that no one knows exactly what policies or programs would substantially reduce individual gun deaths and mass killings. Without well-conducted research, we will never find out. As a physician, I applaud President Barack Obama for his executive action restoring permission for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct research on ways to reduce gun violence.
This action removes legal barriers to systematic studies of the multiple contributors to gun-related deaths and injuries and the effects of violence in media including video games. In recent testimony before Congress, representatives of the National Rifle Association claimed to be concerned about gun safety and decried the impact of violent media. If the organization is sincere in these positions, it should exercise its political muscle to oppose congressional efforts to deny the CDC funding for research on gun violence.
Physicians are taught to practice evidence-based medicine, to prevent waste and error and save lives. The public deserves evidence-based policy — on guns, in particular — to achieve the same goals.