President taps CDC on gun control

January 17, 2013 in Medical Technology

“In addition to being a law enforcement challenge, gun violence is also a serious public health issue that affects thousands of individuals, families, and communities across the nation,” President Barack Obama wrote in his Jan. 16 memorandum to the Centers for Disease Control, when he charged the agency with conducting research into the matter.

The CDC, he wrote, “shall conduct or sponsor research into the causes of gun violence and the ways to prevent it.”

The CDC is under the umbrella of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Obama charged HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to begin “by identifying the most pressing research questions with the greatest potential public health impact, and by assessing existing public health interventions being implemented across the nation to prevent gun violence.”

[See also: CDC taps Direct for health safety network]

Noting that each year in the United States there are approximately 30,000 firearm-related deaths, and approximately 11,000 of those deaths result from homicides, Obama laid out his rationale for tapping the CDC this way:

“Recent research suggests that, in developing such an approach, a broader public health perspective is imperative. Significant strides can be made by assessing the causes of gun violence and the successful efforts in place for preventing the misuse of firearms. Taking these steps will improve our understanding of the gun violence epidemic and will aid in the continued development of gun violence prevention strategies.”

[See also: HHS taps Archimedes for high-powered analytics.]

He charged Sebelius, through the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other scientific agencies within the HHS, to conduct or sponsor research into the causes of gun violence and the ways to prevent it. He set no deadlines in his memo.

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