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LOS ANGELES – Attorney General Kamala D. Harris and the Attorneys General of 12 other states and the District of Columbia today sent a letter to the leaders of both houses of Congress, urging them to immediately direct funding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to research causes and prevention of gun-related injuries and deaths.
“Gun violence terrorizes our communities and threatens our public safety,” said Attorney General Harris. “As Attorney General, I see the devastating impact of gun violence every day. I urge Congress to lift the restriction on funding research into the causes of gun violence, which will promote public safety and save lives.”
The CDC distributes over $11 billion in research grants annually, but since 1996 Congress has restricted the use of any CDC funds to research gun violence prevention. While more than half a million Americans have died from gun violence over the past twenty years, federal funding for gun violence research has been cut by 96 percent.
The letter, also signed by the Attorneys General of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont , Virginia, and Washington calls on Congress to fund the CDC to research urgent questions about the root causes of gun violence and ways to most effectively intervene and prevent gun-related injuries and deaths, such as gun safety improvements or counseling by healthcare providers.
The Attorneys General wrote in the letter that more than 33,000 people die every year in the United States from gun violence and unintentional shootings account for an additional 600 deaths annually. Gun violence also disproportionately affects communities of color, as African Americans are nearly twice as likely to be injured or killed by guns as white individuals.
Attorney General Harris has prioritized implementing effective gun safety measures in California. This year, she called for California to strengthen its research efforts around gun violence prevention, supporting SB 1006, authored by Senator Lois Wolk, to urge the University of California Regents to establish a California Firearm Violence Research Center.
Since November 2013, Attorney General Harris has brought the number of individuals in the Armed Prohibited Persons System (APPS) database to a historic low of under 11,000, the lowest level since 2008—effectively removing nearly 25,000 individuals who are prohibited from owning a firearm due to their criminal history, mental health status, or existence of a restraining order.
In 2013, Attorney General Harris also convened a Leadership Group of California’s district attorneys to collaboratively develop recommendations to reduce gun violence through enforcement of existing laws and prevention efforts.
The letter is attached to the online version of this news release at oag.ca.gov/news.