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Rep. Slotkin introduces legislation to boost gun violence research funding

National Institutes of Health Office of Communications
(Photo: National Institutes of Health)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would receive more funding to research gun safety and violence under legislation announced Wednesday by Michigan Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin and Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey.

The bill would provide the CDC with $50 million annually through fiscal year 2029.

Slotkin, a Democrat who has represented communities that have seen two school shootings over the past year and a half, said it’s important to understand a problem to address it.

“My peers are constantly saying, ‘Well this piece of legislation isn’t going to work or this piece of legislation isn’t going to get at it,’" Slotkin said at a Washington, D.C., press conference. "Well, if they’re so convinced that not one single bill of the hundreds that have been produced are actually going to do anything, well at least allow us to study it and have some data."

The CDC had been barred for a little over two decades from researching gun violence and prevention.

That changed in 2020 with an appropriation set to run out this fiscal year.

Some researchers, like Professor Shannon Frattaroli at Johns Hopkins University, are looking forward to the new funding as a way to fill in the gap from those lost years.

“The findings from this newly funded research will provide guidance to communities, local governments, state and federal agencies, and other service providers about how to reverse the upward trend in gun violence that has increased at an alarming rate since the pandemic began,” Frattaroli said Wednesday.

The legislation comes as Michigan State University, as well as schools in Denver and Nashville, are dealing with recent shootings.

Accompanying Slotkin and Markey at Wednesday’s press conference was MSU student Devin Woodruff. He said lawmakers need to act.

“I wish that these tragedies happened less frequently, but as the news from Nashville on Monday showed, this is becoming more of a normalized part of life in the United States," Woodruff said. "And it’s kids and students like me who are paying the price of the inaction of D.C. politicians."

The national legislation comes as Democratic Michigan lawmakers are working on getting their own gun bills through the statehouse.

They deal with safe storage, universal background checks, and emergency risk protection orders — often called "red-flag laws."

Gun-rights advocates have criticized the Michigan proposals as heavy-handed.

Copyright 2023 Michigan Radio. To see more, visit Michigan Radio.