Chairwoman Lowey Statement at Hearing Addressing the Public Health Emergency of Gun Violence
Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey (D-NY), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, delivered the following remarks at the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee's hearing "Addressing the Public Health Emergency of Gun Violence":
It is a pleasure to be here today. I’d like to thank my good friends, Chairwoman DeLauro, and Ranking Member Cole for holding this important hearing.
By my count, this is the first time gun injury prevention will take a leading role in a hearing before this subcommittee since 1996, when I sat at this dais with former Rep. Jay Dickey, and when Dr. Mark Rosenberg, then the Director of the Center for Injury Prevention and Control, was part of a panel testifying on CDC appropriations.
I did not know then what I have sadly learned since– that hearing was part of a coordinated effort to dismantle federal research in gun violence prevention. Soon thereafter, Republicans eliminated funding for the very research that Dr. Rosenberg had been conducting. Since then, the federal government has sat on the sidelines, relinquishing our role in protecting the public health while hundreds of thousands of Americans have lost their lives.
In December, the CDC released data showing that 2017 had the highest number of gun deaths, nearly 40,000, in almost four decades. Adjusted for age fluctuations, gun deaths have jumped by nearly 20% in the past two decades. It is our duty to investigate why.
As a nation we invested in research that inspired seatbelts and airbags, and as a result, thousands of lives have been saved. As members of Congress, particularly those tasked with funding public health research, it is well past time that we fund research to identify what leads to these gun deaths, and more importantly, how to prevent them.
It is clear the United States faces a public health emergency, one that is breaking apart families, eroding the safety of communities, and threatening our shared future. Only by conducting scientific research on gun injury prevention can we better understand the causes of this crisis and develop and implement a public health response to reduce injuries and death. Yet, without dedicated funding from Congress, the CDC, which should lead these efforts, cannot move forward with this vital work.
To our panelists, thank you for joining. I look forward to discussing the tools and resources needed to improve our understanding of the causes, impacts, and scope of gun violence. Together, we can enhance our capabilities, improve public health, and save lives. Thank you.