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OPINION

Gun Control Groups Have Undue Influence Over CDC

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Brynn Anderson

If the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) was looking for ways to rebuild trust with the American public, it just squandered an opportunity to redeem itself.

A new bombshell report from firearms reporter Stephen Gutowski shows three gun control groups apparently have enormous pull over the embattled agency. 

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How so? They appear to have successfully lobbied the CDC to omit statistics mentioning instances of defensive gun use. 

Gutowski notes in The Reload, “The Center For Disease Control (CDC) deleted a reference to a study it commissioned after a group of gun-control advocates complained it made passing new restrictions more difficult.” 

He added, “The lobbying campaign spanned months and culminated with a private meeting between CDC officials and three advocates last summer, a collection of emails obtained by The Reload show. Introductions from the White House and Senator Dick Durbin’s (D., Ill.) office helped the advocates reach top officials at the agency after their initial attempt to reach out went unanswered. The advocates focused their complaints on the CDC’s description of its review of studies that estimated defensive gun uses (DGU) happen between 60,000 and 2.5 million times per year in the United States–attacking criminologist Gary Kleck’s work establishing the top end of the range.”

The most updated CDC definition of “defensive gun use” reads like this: “Although definitions of defensive gun use vary, it is generally defined as the use of a firearm to protect and defend oneself, family, other people, and/or property against crime or victimization. Estimates of defensive gun use vary depending on the questions asked, populations studied, timeframe, and other factors related to study design. Given the wide variability in estimates, additional research is necessary to understand defensive gun use prevalence, frequency, circumstances, and outcomes.” 

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The aforementioned Professor Gary Kleck told The Reload he felt slighted by the CDC, accusing them of doing the gun control movement’s bidding. 

“CDC is just aligning itself with the gun-control advocacy groups,” Kleck said. “It’s just saying: ‘we are their tool, and we will do their bidding.’ And that’s not what a government agency should do.”

Gutowski explains this revelation “may further strain its relationship with Congressional overseers, especially pro-gun Republicans who are set to take control of the House next year.” 

Omitting defensive gun use instances is unscientific and detrimental to discourse. A September 2022 survey commissioned by Georgetown University political economist William English found firearms were used for defensive purposes a whopping 1.7 million times. 

Amy Swearer, a legal studies fellow at the Heritage Foundation who reports on defensive gun uses and manages their Defensive Gun Usage tracker, tweeted her dismay with this decision. 

“The CDC acknowledged that its website's treatment of the scholarship on defensive gun use was solid and that gun control advocates' complaints were unfounded. It scrubbed the DGU portion anyway, because the agency has no backbone or integrity when it comes to gun violence,” Swearer tweeted

She added, “It's disgraceful that any government agency would be willing to play ball with such a group of intellectually dishonest scoundrels, much less become an active participant in the skullduggery.

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This isn’t the first time gun control groups appear to be influencing the CDC. 

There’s a concerted effort by Congressional Democrats to study the health effects of gun violence by repealing the Dickey Amendment. In  doing so, it gives  gun control groups ammunition to force their agenda on the medical profession. At minimum, this revocation of the Dickey Amendment would invite partisan doctors to ask deeply personal questions of their patients relating to firearms ownership. If these doctors hear an answer they don’t like, they could deny gun-owning patients medical treatment altogether or worse—submit sensitive information about them to get them red flagged in states with obtuse extreme risk protection orders (ERPO) laws. 

Named after Rep. Jay Dickey (R-AR)–who backtracked support for it prior to his death in 2017–it passed as a rider to a 1996 omnibus bill, stipulating, “none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) may be used to advocate or promote gun control.”

argued in a 2016 Washington Times column that doctors shouldn’t weaponize gun ownership against their patients, writing, “The CDC is a federal agency under the duress of the Department of Health and Human Services tasked with fighting diseases that “start at home or abroad, are chronic or acute, curable or preventable, human error or deliberate attack,” its website says. How does gun safety fit into the CDC’s mission? It doesn’t, since gun use isn’t a disease or an illness. Rather, it’s a personal choice and inalienable right afforded to us by the U.S. Constitution.” 

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Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership,a nationwide watchdog group of physicians and other health professionals educating their industry and the public about responsible gun use, have long combatted gun control in the medical profession. 

Last year, the organization lambasted CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky for calling for “research” –by extension, ending the Dickey Amendment – and straying away from its mission of combating and preventing infectious diseases. 

When House Republicans assume control in January, they need to thoroughly probe the CDC not only for its mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic but also for its apparent entanglement with gun control groups. 

It’s imperative they protect medical freedom for all Americans—including lawful, gun-owning ones. 

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