Did you know that there is a congressional ban preventing the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) from researching gun violence? With approximately 30,000 gun related deaths per year, the rate of gun violence in the United States is unparalleled by any other country in the developed world. Yet Congress continues to deny that it is a public health issue. The American Medical Association recognizes that the only way to save the thousands of lives affected by gun violence is by lifting the congressional ban so that the CDC can research gun violence, and recommend appropriate action to help lower the death toll. Lifting the Congressional ban will require extensive lobbying. Public charities and trade organizations like the AMA can lobby, and it will prove essential in this fight to end gun violence.

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From the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/14/upshot/compare-these-gun-death-rates-the-us-is-in-a-different-world.html)

Prior to 1960, the number of deaths by automobile was rapidly increasing. Organizations and people began to recognize that deaths by automobile was a public health issue and began lobbying to regulate the automobile industry, leading to Congress and the fifty states to pass legislation to keep people safe. Labeling deaths by automobile as a public health issue and addressing this problem accordingly was very successful as demonstrated by the statistics today: in 1965 there were 5.3 fatalities per 100 million, and now there are only 1.08 fatalities per 100 million.  So now, even though we have far more people driving than we did in the 60’s, there has been a huge decrease in fatalities due to the implementation of regulations designed with public health and safety in mind. It is time we apply this logic to gun violence, acknowledge that gun violence is a public health issue, and determine which policies would best decrease the rates of gun violence in America by allowing the CDC to research this problem.

Research on gun violence is essential in order to save lives, and the American Medical Association stated on June 14, 2016 that it will begin actively lobbying Congress for stricter gun control. Once the ban is lifted, the AMA supports increasing the safety of firearms, controlling their use, enacting a waiting period for purchasing a firearm, and requiring background checks for all people purchasing handguns would be beneficial for safety. However, we won’t have the data to back up new policies until the CDC is allowed to do their job. We must work to counterattack this ban through the same means used to implement it: lobbying. Lobbying is essential to fight this ban that Congress enacted in 1996 due to pressure from the NRA.

If your organization is interested in lobbying, is unsure how to proceed or needs a refresher on the rules, check out our following resources and learn how you can lobby and influence change for a safer tomorrow:

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Angelita Repetto is a Bolder Advocacy intern at the Alliance for Justice. She is a rising senior at the University of Illinois studying Sociology and Political Science, with a Spanish minor. She is very passionate about social justice, and advocacy, and hopes to continue working to improve the lives of disadvantaged people as she begins her career.