A gridlocked U.S. Senate Monday night failed to advance any of four modest proposals to tighten gun restrictions in the wake of the Orlando massacre that killed 49 and wounded 53. But Louisiana’s contribution to that august body, Sens. David Vitter and Bill Cassidy, had already been instructed by the National Rifle Association on how to deal with the scourge of gun violence in America: prayer, and payola.
We knew Vitter would be NRA-compliant — he’s odious. But we thought Cassidy, a physician, might be a little more receptive to sensible gun legislation — legislation that is supported by an overwhelming majority of U.S. citizens — especially after the American Medical Association announced in the days after Orlando that it is adopting a policy position that gun violence is a “public health crisis.” But Bill Cassidy isn’t any physician — AMA member or not — he’s a physician who has benefited from NRA campaign contributions and independent expenditures to the tune of $288,000 since 2008, with most of it coming in 2014 when he unseated Mary Landrieu for the U.S. Senate seat he currently occupies. (Vitter has received just more than $35,000 since 2000, according to OpenSecrets.org.)
The AMA’s position is a no-brainer, but it has little federal research to back it because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was blocked for nearly 20 years from studying the issue and hasn’t been adequately funded by a Congress beholden to the marketing arm of America’s gun manufacturers, AKA the NRA. As National Public Radio reported two days after Orlando, “The history of the ban on federal research on gun violence goes back to 1996 when the National Rifle Association lobbied Congress to prevent any gun research that could be interpreted as endorsing gun control.” In the weeks after the Sandy Hook shootings that killed 20 children and six adults, President Obama in 2013 issued an executive order directing the CDC to resume research “assessing the causes of gun violence ... subject to the availability of appropriations.”
Yet three years later the CDC has yet to initiate any studies — the agency isn’t just about disease; it has an office that studies preventable deaths by accidents and other non-disease causes — because the appropriations just haven’t been available. As The Washington Post reported last week:
The CDC still avoids gun-violence research, demonstrating what many see as the depth of its fear about returning to one of the country’s most divisive debates. The agency recently was asked by The Washington Post why it was still sitting on the sidelines of firearms studies. It declined to make an official available for an interview but responded with a statement noting it had commissioned an agenda of possible research goals but still lacked the dedicated funding to pursue it.
With NRA-purchased congressmen like Cassidy and Vitter controlling both houses of Congress, what’s a stunned nation to do? Why pray of course! Now you can play that game. Just click on the image below.