BY BOB BARR
What’s in a name? In Washington, not much. Here, Republicans who run campaigns on fiscal discipline regularly jack up the national debt. And, Democrats who constantly preach “tolerance” push the narrative that “free speech is violence” and disagreement is itself cause for punishment.
So, to the inhabitants of this strange place, it actually makes sense that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) should be involved in researching, funding, and advocating for regulations about non-disease related issues, such as gun violence. After all, to Beltway insiders, a federal agency established in the 1940s to combat malaria (which at the time was rampant in parts of the United States), should be free to spend federal tax dollars studying everything from the Ebola virus to school bullying, workplace hazards, domestic violence and, yes, gun control.
Last month’s tragic mass murder in Parkland, Florida has – predictably – again raised the notion advocated for years by the gun control movement that gun violence is a “public health” issue with which the CDC should deal. The fact that gun violence has nothing to do with diseases or the public’s health, matters nothing to individuals bent on dismantling the protections guaranteed by the Second Amendment however they can.
As a term of art, gun violence can be, and often is described metaphorically as a “disease,” a “cancer,” or a “blight” on our society. But speaking in a nation ruled by laws not opinions or personal views — a world in which words have assigned, accepted and understandable meanings — there is absolutely no connection between mass shootings and the flu, Ebola, malaria, or any other disease which should be consuming the time, resources, and focus of doctors and scientists at the CDC.
Since the Clinton presidency, however, gun control advocates, especially within the Democratic Party, have pushed relentlessly to shoehorn gun violence into the jurisdiction of what should be an apolitical agency focusing on medicine and science. To these advocates, gun violence is a “public health” issue, and therefore a legitimate issue for the CDC to engage. Once that threshold fact is established, the rest follows – to help rid society of its cause; not a virus or bacteria, but an object – a gun.
The approach favored by the gun control advocates – a long-term, multi-faceted strategy involving political, financial, legal and PR tracks — worked well for Nanny State warriors in the late-20thCentury battle against tobacco. That war finally (in 2009) opened the door for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to gain statutory jurisdiction with which to regulate and control all tobacco products.
Now — following decades of demonizing firearms in the public arena and engaging in regulatory “death by a thousand cuts” – Democrats hope that what worked with tobacco and the FDA will result in the CDC being given money and power to research and study “gun violence” as a disease; to be then “controlled” by containing and restricting, if not eliminating its root cause – guns.
While Republican efforts to deny funding for the CDC’s foray into gun control since Bill Clinton launched the effort two decades ago, have stopped the agency from formally working in that arena, the Left has not been sleeping. They have quietly and consistently been working to ensure that the false notion of gun violence being a public “health” issue, remains part of the public policy debate. And, they have seen to it that private donors, including the CDC Foundation, and other agencies not so visible (such as the National Academy of Sciences) have been provided money to keep that work alive.
Mass shootings and our response to them are incredibly complex issues, touching on subjects ranging from law enforcement, education, delinquency, mental health, and physical school safety, to fundamental due process, equal protection of the laws and other constitutionally-guaranteed protections. To pigeon hole this issue as a “public health” issue so the CDC is able to “research” and solve it as a “disease” will contribute little, if any, greater understanding to the problem or the best solutions.
Actually, dropping the CDC into the mix will make solving the problem of stopping mass murders more difficult. The debate should and must remain focused on stopping evildoers within the context and bounds of our Constitution (including the Bill of Rights); with the Department of Justice leading the effort at the federal level. Treating this problem as a medical or quasi-medical matter will allow gun control advocates the “cover” of engaging in scientific and medical endeavors; while what they really will be doing is systematically dismantling our Second Amendment rights, and the ability of law-abiding citizens to protect themselves and their families against evil sought to be perpetrated on us.
Self-Educated American Contributing Editor, Bob Barr, represented Georgia’s 7th district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 -2003 and as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia from 1986-1990.