Two decades ago, then-U.S. Rep. Jay Dickey (R-AR), the National Rifle Association's self-described point man in Congress, and Dr. Mark Rosenberg, a champion of gun-violence research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, clashed. Members of Congress criticized CDC, Rosenberg lost his job, and since then, CDC has refused to investigate shootings as a public health problem, a position that even presidential pleas and strings of mass shootings have proved powerless to reverse. The Washington Post says the gun debate is still shaped by what happened between these two men, who say that what happened was a mistake that has encouraged gun violence's tragic toll.
As 2016 presidential hopefuls offer competing visions of how to deal with shootings, Dickey and Rosenberg believe they have a solution. They are not sure that anyone, on either side, wants to hear it. Now, both men agree that the CDC should resume research on guns, but it should have the twin goals of reducing gun violence and protecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners. “We need to turn this over to science and take it away from politics,” said Dickey.