U.S. President Barack Obama takes questions from reporters during a news conference at the White House in Washington, January 14, 2013.
(Photo : REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)
President Barack Obama's gun control proposals may be among the most divisive issues currently facing the U.S., but his plan to curb gun violence also has some surprising supporters: scientists.
American scientists are praising the President's gun control plans, particularly supporting Obama's gun control initiative lifting bans on federal gun research, according to Livescience.com. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) haven't been allowed to research gun violence since the 1990s, when Congress inserted language into a budgetary bill forbidding the agency from using money to "advocate or promote gun control," essentially freezing its gun violence research program. The National Institutes of Health have suffered under similar restrictions since 2011.
That all changed Wednesday, when Obama announced he would sign a presidential memorandum telling the CDC the language in the bill didn't legally prohibit them from conducting gun research. The President also said he would work for an additional $10 million in CDC funding in 2014 earmarked to research the causes of gun violence, including investigating possible links with video games and media, exciting researchers.
"I'm thrilled that it received such a high priority," said Jerome Kassirer, a professor at the Tufts University School of Medicine.
"Having an understanding of the best available scientific information on a topic is necessary for the best informed decision-making," said Michael Halpern, the program manager for scientific integrity at the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Scientists also supported Obama's proposals for expanding background checks and banning the manufacturing of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, saying the initiatives had potential to work.
Obama's proposed legislation "is eminently sensible and certainly can do nothing but good," said Matthew Miller, a professor of health policy and management at Harvard University, who studies gun homicides and suicides.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Public Health Association (APHA) also responded enthusiastically to the new gun control proposals.
"Today's life-saving recommendations include a ban on sales of assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, mandatory background checks for all gun purchases and measures to improve access to mental health in this country among other important proposals," Georges Benjamin, the head of the APHA, said in a statement.
"They hold tremendous promise for creating safer, healthier communities and deserve our nation's unwavering support."
The AAP also heralded the multifaceted nature of Obama's plan.
"In addition to addressing firearm regulations, we must improve access to quality mental health care both to help prevent violent acts and to assist victims of trauma," AAP president Thomas McInrny said in a statement.
The National Rifle Association responded to Obama's proposals less favorably, delivering a response that downplayed the need for gun control in the wake of the second-deadliest shooting ever by a lone gunman at a school in the U.S. at Sandy Hook Elementary last month.
"Attacking firearms and ignoring children is not a solution to the crisis we face as a nation," the NRA wrote. "Only honest, law-abiding gun owners will be affected and our children will remain vulnerable to the inevitability of more tragedy."