A nationwide coalition of mayors who support tougher gun control, including Thomas M. Menino of Boston and Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, issued a report Monday that assails the National Rifle Association for what the mayors describe as a systematic attempt to restrict access to firearms data and research by the public, government, and law enforcement.
The report was unveiled by Bloomberg at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore on the one-month anniversary of the shooting spree at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., that killed 20 first-graders and six adults.
“The message of this kind of report shows why you need to keep the momentum and what we’re up against,” said Jake Sullivan, who is Menino’s liaison to the federal government. “You make informed choices for the health and safety of your communities, but because this is about guns, you can really see how (the NRA) has turned out the lights on our ability” to collect information.
The report by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which has 800 members across the country, calls for removing federal restrictions on firearms research by the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health, and undoing a ban that prohibits law enforcement from releasing much information on the history of guns used in crimes.
Since 1996, when an amendment backed by the NRA forbade the CDC from research that could be used to “advocate or promote gun control,” the agency’s funding for firearm-injury prevention has fallen 96 percent, according to the report. Last year, the CDC spent $100,000 of its $5.6 billion on the subject.
“The Washington gun lobby has led an aggressive effort to limit what we know about firearms. And it has largely succeeded,” according to the report. “Among a group of 32 comparable nations, the United States accounts for 30 percent of the population, but 90 percent of the gun homicides. Despite this epidemic, the federal government conducts almost no scientific research on how criminals get and misuse guns, or what policies are effective at stopping them.”
David Keene, the NRA president, said Sunday on CNN that he believes Congress will not ban assault weapons, like the one used in the Newtown massacre, despite President Obama’s declaration that gun control is one of his top priorities.
But Sullivan said he believes national momentum has shifted significantly toward tighter laws on firearms. “We’re not going away,” Sullivan said.Brian MacQuarrie can be reached at email@example.com.