It's another very busy BradCast today, with breaking news on the murder of a British Member of Parliament, the Democratic 'filibuster' on guns in the U.S. Senate, Obama's visit to Orlando, and my interview with the man who led the CDC's fight against the NRA and Republicans in Congress twenty years ago, when federal funding for research into gun violence and prevention was effectively ended. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]
First up, the shooting and stabbing death of British Labour Party MP Jo Cox, has stunned the UK, just days before the controversial "Brexit" referendum vote on whether to leave the European Union. The alleged killer is in custody, and reportedly shouted "Britain First", the name of one of the Rightwing groups opposed to staying in the Union, during the attack.
Next, the Democrats' 15-hour 'filibuster' in the U.S. Senate, lead by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), comes to end with an apparent victory, of sorts. The Senator --- who served as Newtown, CT's member of Congress when the Sandyhook Massacre resulted in the deaths of 20 school children and 6 adults back in 2012 --- sought to force Republicans to allow votes on closing the gun show/online background check loophole, as well as legislation to disallow suspected terrorists from easily and legally purchasing guns. In related news, President Obama's spoke on Thursday after meeting with family members of the victims of last weekend's Orlando Massacre, and called once again for action to help prevent such tragedies.
Then, as the American Medical Association (AMA), one of the nation's most powerful lobbying organizations, has finally come out in favor of federal funding for gun research, I speak with Dr. Mark Rosenberg, who headed the Center for Disease Control (CDC)'s National Center for Injury Prevention twenty years ago when, in 1996, he squared off with Republicans in Congress who ultimately forced the federal agency to end all research into gun violence, the causes behind it, and how to help prevent it from happening in the first place.
Rosenberg, who recently retired as head of the Task Force on Global Health, explains the history of what is now known as the 'Dickey Amendment', which effectively served to end all federal research on guns. He describes his initial confrontations with then U.S. Rep. Jay Dickey (R-AR), who has since, ironically enough, become a friend and ally, and why still-absent federal research funding is so important to helping curb the nation's extraordinary gun violence epidemic.
"The NRA had been attacking us [the CDC] for years, because they thought that to allow research to be done might not be good for gun sales. And so they developed a zero tolerance policy," Rosenberg tells me. "They told their members that it's either-or, black and white, take your choice. Either you can do the research or you can keep your guns. But they said you can't do both. And if you allow the research, we will all lose all of our guns."
The showdown with GOPers doing the bidding of the NRA at the time, he says, came not long after CDC-funded research found that "having a gun in the home --- not only did it not protect you, but it increased the risk that someone in your family would be shot and killed with a gun, not by 5 or 6 or 20 percent, not by 80 or 90 percent, but more than 200 percent."
Rosenberg explains his fascinating history with former Congressman Dickey, how federal research is not actually "banned" to this day (despite reporting to the contrary), why it is still not carried out nonetheless, and what he describes as the four "basic scientific questions" that federal research could help answer. Namely: "Who gets shot, how many people?"; "What are the causes" of gun death and injury and "what increases and decreases the risk"?; What could "work to prevent it"?; and, "once you find things that work, how do you put them into legislation and craft a policy that will both keep us safe and protect the rights of law-abiding gun owners"?
It's an eye-opening and important discussion that I hope you'll take some time to listen to and share. And, finally, at the end of the show, as your gift, you'll be rewarded with a much-overdue laugh, courtesy of Al Franken. Enjoy!
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)