Gun violence is never easy to talk about. Not right after a mass shooting. Not after a teenager is accused of killing 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Florida, in the deadliest school shooting since the 2012 attack at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut.
But unless we start talking about gun violence and its underlying causes, nothing is going to change, IU law professor Jody Madeira said on Thursday.
Madeira teaches Second Amendment law at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law. In her view, current views about guns are so extreme that people find it difficult to discuss the subject with each other rationally “for fear of being labeled either a gun zealot, if you have firearms, or a liberal know-nothing if you don’t.”
We tend to put ourselves in “polar camps,” she said, when in reality most people have more nuanced views.
“Most of us are just here in the middle, going, ‘We feel helpless.’” In a way, she said, school shootings now feel almost like a natural disaster, like a hurricane. “We forget that we make the laws, and we can change the laws.”
It doesn’t help that the United States does not produce much research on the phenomenon of gun violence, she pointed out. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is not encouraged to look into it because of the Dickey Amendment of 1996, which states “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.”
“That wording is just so vague that it undermines the value of a study,” Madeira said. If the CDC’s findings reflected positively on gun control, the organization could see its budget stripped.