Kaiser Permanente, a national healthcare system, is launching a rare national gun violence prevention study. Research into the topic has been sparse since Congress all but cut off federal funding more than 20 years ago.
The California-based Kaiser Permanente is putting two million dollars into studies aimed at finding ways for medical professionals to prevent gun injuries and deaths. One study will develop a risk prediction model to find which patients are most susceptible to gun violence or suicide.
For comparison, in 1996, the year a budget amendment shut down the flow of federal firearms research money, the Center For Disease Control’s entire budget for firearms injury research was $2.6 million.
Dr. Bechara Choucair, Kaiser’s Chief Community Health Officer, said preventing gun violence is a matter of community health.
“Firearm injury, whether, suicide, homicide or accident is a preventable cause of death that is really robbing promise from our youth and really it’s undermining the quality of life in our communities,” he said.
Gun rights groups, like the National Rifle Association, have been critical of the medical community wading into firearms issues, tweeting out at one point that doctors should “stay in their lane.” That prompted a backlash, with trauma doctors posting graphic photos from the surgery room to highlight the cost of gun violence.
But Choucair says the Kaiser studies will be focused on science, not politics. The upcoming studies will take place in Washington state, Colorado, and California.
In 1996, a budget amendment supported by the NRA made it difficult for the Centers for Disease Control to continue funding studies on gun violence. Since then, money for such research has largely dried up.
On Wednesday, The U.S. House of Representatives voted to approve $25 million in funding for the CDC to study gun injuries and deaths, the first time in more than two decades they have passed such funding. The bill is part of an appropriations package that now heads to the Republican-controlled Senate.
Find Heath Druzin on Twitter @HDruzin
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