Nearly 40,000 people die annually from gun deaths in the United States. Thanks to the gun lobby, the federal government has largely been prohibited from doing research to figure out how to reduce those numbers. But Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY) said Thursday that she thinks any more research would be a waste of money. Her reasoning: the National Rifle Association already has done all the research we need.
Tenney, who is facing a close re-election race in New York’s 22nd Congressional District, debated her Democratic opponent, Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi (D), on Thursday night. After bragging about being “very proud” of her “A” rating from the NRA, she was asked by the moderator whether she would support funding to study gun violence in this country. Without hesitating, Tenney made clear she would not.
In 1996, the National Rifle Association and one of its champions, then-Rep. Jay Dickey (R-AR) pushed through Congress a legislative provision that effectively blocked Centers for Disease Control doing any research on the causes of gun violence in America. In 2015, after a mass shooting in Oregon, even Dickey himself suggested that his amendment should be scrapped and that federal research was needed to find ways to stop the problem. Following the horrific mass killings in Parkland, Fla., Congress passed a bill in March that lifted the prohibition but did not appropriate the funds for such research.
Tenney said Thursday that it would be a waste to spend money on this research, because we already know all we need to know. “We’ve spent a fortune studying gun violence,” she claimed. “One of the things the NRA does, it was actually founded in New York City. The prime purpose, the reason that [the] NRA was founded was to provide education and safety for people handling firearms. So we want to spend more tax dollars to study something that we already know a lot about? I don’t think that’s a good use of taxpayer money. ”
While the National Rifle Association’s origins were indeed as a safety organization, since the 1970s its main focus has been opposing virtually all restrictions on guns in America.
And while Tenney may think that the lobbying organization’s research has yielded all the answers, even with Congress and the administration siding with the NRA on virtually everything, gun violence continues to be a huge problem in America. Perhaps with more neutral government research, its causes might be easier for the nation to address. And perhaps Tenney would know better than to make claims like the one she made in February, when she wrongly suggested that mass murders are usually done by Democrats.
Ryan Koronowski contributed research to this story.