Gun violence: Doc spends $1 million of his own money to fund research

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A California doctor has spent both his time and more than $1 million of his own money to study gun violence, according to a Vox report.

Garen Wintemute, M.D., a professor of emergency medicine and director of the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California, Davis, is one of the few researchers in the country committed to full-time research into firearm violence, according to the article. And with a limit on federal dollars that can be spent on gun violence research, Wintemute has donated more than $1 million of his own money to help support his research efforts.

“I provide funding for two reasons. The first is because I can, and the second is because it’s a huge problem that directly affects hundreds of thousands of people every year. It indirectly affects every man, woman and child in the United States,” Wintemute said in an interview with Vox.

In the aftermath of the June 12 mass shooting inside an Orlando nightclub in which a gunman killed 49 people and injured 53 more, the American Medical Association last week adopted a policy labeling gun violence a “public health crisis” in the U.S. and resolved to lobby Congress to overturn legislation that effectively prohibits the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from conducting research on gun violence. The 1996 Congressional amendment bars the CDC from allocating funds that could be used to “advocate or promote gun control.”

Wintemute wonders about the impact to public health if the tobacco industry had been able to stop research on the connection between smoking and cancer or if the motor vehicle industry had been able to shut down research on the causes and consequences of motor vehicle accidents.

“Those studies have helped us understand the problem, they’ve helped us understand risk factors, how to implement interventions and to see if those interventions actually work,” he told Vox.

Scientists aren’t conducting studies to advocate for or against gun control, he said. For instance, his research program released a report saying legislation that would require gun show sellers to run background checks on buyers would have little effect on violence, results that infuriated gun control advocates. Wintemute says funding could help answer questions such as why fatal gun violence in California has gone down by more than 20 percent in the last 15 years, while rates across the country have not changed.

- read the article

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