About 30,000 americans die every year from gun-related deaths (a number likely to exceed those dying from automobile-related accidents very soon if trends continue). About 1 in 3 of those are homicides and the remainder suicides. Together this totals more than 300,000 since the world Trade Centre attacks. Most countries facing a public health threat of this magnitude would have spent significant amounts on research to find out what measures might reduce the death rate (as the USA has done with automotive safety).
A recent editorial in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine claimed that the NRA had used its legislative clout to block public funding for such research. In their words (but my highlights):
Today, with almost no funding for firearm violence research, there are almost no researchers. Counting all academic disciplines together, no more than a dozen active, experienced investigators in the United States have focused their careers primarily on firearm violence. Only 2 are physicians. Only 1 has evaluated the effectiveness of an assault weapons ban.
Why did this happen? In the early 1990s, scientists were producing evidence that might have been used to reform the nation’s firearm policies. To those whose interests were threatened by such reforms, it made perfect sense to choke off the production of the evidence. This effort was led by Congressman Jay Dickey, self-described “point person for the NRA.” It succeeded. When rates of firearm violence were at historic highs and appeared to be increasing, the government abandoned its commitment to understanding the problem and devising evidence-based solutions.
Given the poverty of good statistics on the topic and the relevance of such statistics for policy (see the difficulty of finding good statistics in this question: Is gun control effective? ) , this seems strange. But is it true? Did the NRA successfully lobby to block research funding related to gun control and gun violence?