Mr. Dickey’s mistake



Dear Editor:

Jay Dickey was a nice man from Arkansas. He ran and won the seat to the Fourth Congressional District and served his community as their representative from 1993-2001. While there, he claims to have made the mistake that became known as the Dickey Amendment.

This piece of legislation was a small amendment introduced as a “rider” in the 1996 Omnibus spending bill of that year. It was lost in a multi-thousand page tome when it was signed into law. The bill simply states that “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.” There was no reduction in the funding for the CDC that year and the money previously allocated for research into firearm safety then provided for research in other important areas of investigation in injury prevention.

This amendment to a budgeting bill actually froze the ability to do research into gun safety and injury prevention related to firearms from that point on. It was strongly supported by the gun lobby. This is partly to do with the fact that in the early 1990s, research was beginning to point out that owning a gun was hazardous to the family living in the house with a much greater risk of killing a family member than an intruder. Jay Dickey, men like him and the gun lobby decided that this research was biased and that the federal government need not support such research.

In 2012, there were 16 mass shootings in the United States with 88 people killed, including the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. It was then that former Rep. Dickey came to terms with the results of his amendment. After some reflection on these events and on his amendment, Mr. Dickey decided that he had made a mistake.

He said, “I wish we had started the proper research and kept it going all this time. I have regrets.” “All this time that we have had, we would’ve found a solution, in my opinion. And I think it’s a shame that we haven’t.”

I believe that if we are to come to grips with the fact of over 60,000 shootings among our civilian population resulting in over 15,000 deaths annually, that we need to be able to study the phenomenon of gun violence without restriction. To fail to do this is to fail our citizenry.

Jeff Milliken

East Blue Hill

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