NRA's "Inappropriate Influence" Over CDC Firearms Research Questioned By Brady Center

For Immediate Release

NRA's "Inappropriate Influence" Over CDC Firearms Research Questioned By Brady Center

WASHINGTON - The Brady Center today made public its letter questioning the National Rifle Association’s “improper influence” over Centers for Disease Control (CDC) firearms research. The letter, dated March 1, 2011, was e-mailed and sent via the U.S. postal service to the Honorable Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services.

The letter was prompted by comments from CDC Spokesperson Thomas Skinner, who indicated that researchers financed by CDC are asked to give the CDC a “heads-up” when they conduct firearms-related studies. The CDC then, “as a courtesy,” informs the National Rifle Association before the studies are published or released to the general public. Skinner’s comments were reported by the New York Times in a January 25, 2011 article, “N.R.A. Stymies Firearms Research.”

“If the CDC is allowing the NRA to review its studies, it’s a deeply troubling practice,” said Brady Center President Paul Helmke. “To have a government agency open itself and its science to the influence of any interest group, particularly one whose policies undermine the safety of our families and communities, is improper, offensive, and unjustifiable. We need science that we can trust.”     

The Brady Center letter pointed out also that actions like these would be directly at odds with the Obama Administration’s goal to assure transparency in the use of science to inform public policy. Those aims were announced in the President Obama’s March 9, 2009 Memorandum on Scientific Integrity and reinforced in a December 17, 2010 Memorandum on the same subject by John P. Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology. Holdren, in part, said, “[s]cience and public trust in science, thrives in an environment that shields scientific data and analysis from inappropriate political influence.”

In its letter, the Brady Center asked Secretary Sebelius a number of questions, including those regarding the extent of the NRA’s special ‘courtesy’ notice of firearms-related studies, the extent the NRA has influenced CDC decision-making on the nature and content of firearms-related research, and the justification for the practice of giving the NRA such preferential treatment.

Click this link to read the Brady Center’s letter:http://www.bradycampaign.org/xshare/Facts/Brady_Center_Letter_to_Secretary_Sebelius.pdf

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The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and its legislative and grassroots affiliate, the Brady Campaign and its dedicated network of Million Mom March Chapters, is the nation's largest, non-partisan, grassroots organization leading the fight to prevent gun violence.

We are devoted to creating an America free from gun violence, where all Americans are safe at home, at school, at work, and in our communities.

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