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The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention draws a budget of more than $11 billion for the purpose of, as the name implies, controlling and preventing diseases. The mammoth CDC, however, is always eager for mission creep. In the 1990s it spent $2.6 million to study “gun violence,” which is not, strictly speaking, a disease. A 1996 amendment by Rep. Jack Dickey barred the CDC from any research that could promote advocacy of tougher gun laws. Now some want to reverse course.
The President of the United States wanted $10 million for CDC gun efforts in the last two budget cycles. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told gun-control groups that eliminating the ban was a “priority” and she made it a part of recent budget negotiations. The ban stayed in but the effort to re-deploy the CDC in the cause of gun control is instructive for taxpayers. The gun-control advocates did not explain how anything the CDC did in the past could prevent mass shootings such as the massacre of 14 in San Bernardino. It did not emerge how eliminating the Dickey Amendment could prevent such killings in the future. It was all about expanding the mission of huge federal bureaucracy with a budget of more than $11 billion, and which has been surging in areas that have nothing to do with disease control.
Might a CDC push for more gun laws distract from the mission to prevent and control actual diseases? Might CDC advocacy make it even more difficult for law-abiding citizens to protect themselves? That also failed to emerge, along with the way gun control has been used to disarm and suppress “enemies of the state,” as Stephen Halbrook showed in Gun Control in the Third Reich. Meanwhile, taxpayers might note that when U.S. Army Major Nidal Hasan, a psychiatrist, gunned down 13 at Ford Hood in 2009, the administration called it “workplace violence,” not “gun violence.”