By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
Twenty-two years ago beginning in 1996, every government bill in regard to funding has what is known as the Dickey Amendment. Although this has been interpreted several ways, this past Tuesday several congress members and gun law experts gathered to express their thoughts and viable solutions.
The increased discussion surrounding gun violence has been a topic for a while given the rise of mass shootings in America. The most recent occurred in February at Parkland High School in Florida. Seventeen people were killed before the shooter was taken into police custody.
The high school students, in honor of their friends and in hopes of preventing another mass shooting, created the #NeverAgain movement. Their courage and determination have inspired political leaders to think more critically about the use of guns in the nation.
Several Congress members are taking a stance against the aforementioned Dickey Amendment. Created by Rep. Jay Dickey, the amendment prohibited funds from being “used to advocate or promote gun control.” As a result, little to none research has been allocated on gun violence.
Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy of Florida is one of the legislators pushing for more research.
“We’ve had enough moments of silence,” she said. “It’s time we did something about it.”
Before the call, she, along with other congressional members met with President Trump and Vice President Pence to discuss gun control. According to Murphy, the discussion included the introduction of a new bill that could possibly create more regulations if passed.
Murphy said that Trump seemed open to the ideas, and she is hopeful that there’ll be more support to come.
Other legislators showing their support include Congresswoman Robin Kelly of Illinois. Kelly explained that gun violence especially in cities like Chicago is continually growing and has become an “everyday problem.”
“Enough is enough,” Kelly said.
According to Kelly, Rep. Dickey regrets that all research pertaining to guns stopped and that was not his intention. She believes, that more research relating to gun violence and mental health needs to happen for a change to take place.
Congressman Ryan Costello of Pennsylvania stated that while mental health plays a role in some mass shootings there’s usually another cause. He expressed concerns about the violence portrayed in media, citing its consistency in Hollywood and video games has allowed it to become “normal.”
Like Costello, Dr. Paul Chung, a pediatrician and a chair on the Pediatric Policy Council stressed the toll gun violence can take a child’s health.
“Gun violence is a threat to children’s health, plain and simple,” he said.
He questioned why such strong stances against drinking and tobacco are taken when gun violence is as big as an issue. While he understands the complexity of gun violence, he reminded everyone that measures need to be taken to prevent the “next school shooting.”
The final speaker was Mike McLively, Director of the Urban Gun Violence Initiative. He likewise questioned the lack of research pertaining to gun violence when over 30,000 people have died from guns and sixty to seventy thousand have been injured.
While McLively commended the efforts of Congress members, he believes they should repeal the Dickey Amendment and permit more grants in order to study gun violence and prevention.
“There’s so many lives on the line,” McLively said.
Although the Dickey Amendment has “competing interpretations” according to Costello, there’s hope that a solution if not several will appear in the weeks to come.
“We can still find common sense solutions,” McLively said.