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Statement on Gun Violence

In light of recent events occurring nationwide associated with gun-related violence in schools, the American Anthropological Association (AAA) has released the following statement on gun violence on behalf of the Association’s more than 11,000 members.

American Anthropological Association Statement on Gun Violence

The tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary and Taft Union High School, the latest in an escalating series of mass shootings, remind us that gun violence is a major cause of death in the United States. Every year over 30,000 Americans are killed by guns. This is only slightly less than the number killed in car crashes and accidental poisonings (including drug overdoses). The abundance of guns in the U.S. also poses problems for neighboring countries. Since it is necessary to understand a problem in order to solve it, there is an urgent need for research by social scientists, public health experts and others into the relationship between guns and public safety and into measures that might reduce the number of lives lost to gun-related violence every year. The U.S. has a long history of public funding for research in the general interest – on agricultural innovation, public health, and product safety, for example.

Unfortunately, in 1996 the U.S. Congress defunded research on gun safety and gun injury at the Centers for Disease Control. It subsequently imposed constraints on research on guns and public health sponsored by the National Institutes for Health. Far from fostering a better understanding of gun deaths, the U.S. government seems to be actively impeding it.

Therefore we call upon the Congress and the Administration to rescind measures that obstruct the development of empirical knowledge about guns and public safety. Further, we call on the Congress and the Administration to make additional federal funds available, as an urgent national priority, for rigorous peer-reviewed research by experts from diverse disciplinary backgrounds to investigate ways of reducing the tragic loss of life in incidents involving guns.

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