The 'Icky' Dickey Amendment — our problem with gun nuts

Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC
Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC

I have a riddle for you. How many young adults are in long-term care facilities because of gun violence? The answer: No one knows because there is a ban restricting federal funding for gun violence research.

Why is that? Simply because the National Rifle Association and other critics claim that this research is anti-gun advocacy. A federal funding for gun violence research ban occurred after a 1993 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Injury Prevention showed that homes with firearms were at an increased risk for homicide in the home.

After the study was released, the NRA lobbied to completely shut down the Center for Injury Prevention. That will teach the CDC to try to do something to control and prevent gun violence. So there!

So in response, Rep. Jay Dickey, a Republican congressman from Arkansas, authored the Dickey amendment in 1996. Ironically, the former congressman now says he now regrets doing this and wishes he could reverse it. Anyway, this amendment stipulated that none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control research could be used to “advocate or promote gun control.”

The Dickey Amendment effectively restricted all federal funding for gun violence research, since no one knew what type of research would be interpreted as “advocating for or promoting gun control” under the amendment. Because um … yeah, research might just show that guns kill people. Come on, people! Guns serve one purpose: They shoot out a projectile meant to kill — whether it's your dinner, an intruder or mass murder. Research isn't going to change that reality unless you've been living under a rock and, well, was hit on the head with it too!

And get this: There are NRA watchdogs within the CDC. The New York Times reported in 2011 that the CDC tips off the NRA when any associated researchers publish firearm-related studies. I wonder why. Was it to be nice, have their own research funded or were they so terrified that if the NRA found out on its own, they would carry out their threat to shut down the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention?

And we complain about nurses eating their young. Man, this is more in line with 30 pieces of silver!

Honest talk about guns

Let's be honest here. Research on gun violence is NOT infringing on any gun owner's rights. I am sick of all the platitudes. It's research on gun violence, not gun ownership. And before someone comments that research on gun violence will destroy the ability of a gun owner to keep his or her rights, let's do an equivocal comparison.

We've spent decades studying the effects of automobile safety without dismantling that industry. Millions of people still own cars; we've just learned how to make driving safer.

Oops, excuse me … I guess my anger is showing! However, I am not the only person in healthcare who is “perturbed.” (OK, I wanted to use a different word but this is a family friendly blog. EDITOR'S NOTE: Thank you, Jackie.)

Hours before the Dec. 2 San Bernardino mass shooting, physicians belonging to groups such as Members of Doctors for America, the American College of Preventative Medicine, and the American Academy of Pediatrics merged on Capitol Hill to demand an end to the Dickey Amendment. They presented a petition with thousands of signatures from physicians requesting that research be allowed to begin again so that we can learn to tamp down gun violence.

They are the just some of the ones dealing with the physical and psychological mess left behind, suffering with their own PSTD in doing so.  Did you know there is even a new type of trauma doctor being trained to deal with these mass shootings? 

According to the Huffington post, more than half a million people have died by firearms in the United States in the last nine years since the ban on gun violence research was enacted. That's an average of 90 deaths a day. This is truly the only area of injury at such incredibly large numbers that absolutely no research is done on. Does anyone else but me think this is wrong?

I mean, death by many types of injures are not always preventable. Death by gun, however: 100% preventable. And don't give me that rhetoric that if someone else had a gun, then they wouldn't have died because either way, someone's winding up six feet under. What? Maybe we should give kindergarteners assault weapons so they can protect themselves against a mentally ill guy with a gun instead of keeping that mentally ill guy from getting a gun in the first place?

'New normal' unacceptable

So what if they blow each other away when one kid takes another's toy? Oh yeah, and we don't want to stop people on the no-fly list from getting an assault weapon because somehow that will stop a hunter from getting one. Who doesn't want to obliterate their venison?

I don't like this “new normal.” It's unacceptable. We've always learned through research. Young people are increasing in numbers in our facilities due to gunshot wounds causing brain injury or para- and quadriplegia, causing them to live out the rest of their lives where no one young expects to go. No random shopping at the mall, no going out for a latte, no flirting at a pub. That future is gone because someone who has no control over their emotions had access to a gun.

We should join those advocating for a way to stop the violence. Let's not wait until someone decides that holding a mass shooting in a facility full of veterans is a great way to display their extremism. 

Or do you think that's the gun owner's right?

Just keeping it real,

Nurse Jackie

 The Real Nurse Jackie is written by Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC, a 2012 APEX Award of Excellence winner for Blog Writing. Vance is a real life long-term care nurse. A nationally respected nurse educator and past national LTC Nurse Administrator of the Year, she also is an accomplished stand-up comedienne. She has not starred in her own national television series — yet. The opinions supplied here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her employer or her professional affiliates.

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The Real Nurse Jackie

The Real Nurse Jackie is written by Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC, a 2012 APEX Award of Excellence winner for Blog Writing. Vance is a real life long-term care nurse. A nationally respected nurse educator and past national LTC Nurse Administrator of the Year, she also is an accomplished stand-up comedienne. The opinions supplied here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her employer or her professional affiliates.

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