Nov. 28, 2018 – In a new JAMA Surgery Viewpoint, surgeons at the front lines of gun violence urge the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to take action and set priorities for research and advocacy.

“America should not be known as the place where citizens do not feel safe in a church, a school or an outdoor concert. We can do better, and will do better, when we have the courage to reject the status quo and do the right thing,” writes Joseph Sakran, M.D., M.P.H., M.P.A., director of emergency general surgery at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. Sakran is an expert in gun violence and is himself a former victim of gun violence.

The Dickey Amendment, passed by Congress in 1996, halted gun violence research for nearly two decades by forbidding the CDC from using money to “advocate or promote gun control.” The authors say that the recent 2018 Omnibus spending bill allows the CDC the authority to conduct research on the causes of gun violence; however, Congress has yet to appropriate federal dollars toward this public health crisis.

A national effort is required, says Sakran, to actively promote research in causes and solutions, including gun violence prevention strategies at the community level, and examine policies that currently exist for gun design, manufacturing and distribution.