censorship Ahead of the Curve: The CDC and Gun Control Forrest Cooper October 4, 2021 2 Comments, Join the Conversation As a testimony to the importance of the Second Amendment, the topic of gun control and the right to bear arms spans all levels of society, and takes form in every part of conversation: from talks between friends, to academic debates, to news and propaganda, to public policy. More complicated than Left-vs-Right, while certain factors are clear: some political candidates campaign on taking away your right to bear arms, the landscape is not nearly as defined as a chessboard. Where some moves to restrict the access to or legal ownership of firearms are overt, such as a State government banning the possession of an AR-15, other moves are much more subversive, such as a backdoor registration. One such example is using the CDC to promote, if not produce backdoor gun control. What does the Center for Disease Control have to do with Guns? As we have seen over the past 2 years, the role of the CDC appears to change depending on the circumstance. Despite the highly political nature of both Covid-19 and the responses of both elected and unelected officials, the appointment of Dr. Rochelle Walensky to the position of Director of the CDC has drawn attention. Unlike the now-withdrawn nomination of David Chipman to the head of the BATFE, appointments to the CDC do not require confirmation by the Senate. The use of the CDC to influence or enforce restrictions has face scrutiny over the past two years. In 1997, during the Clinton Presidency, Congress cut all funding for gun-related research from the CDC. Under Donald Trump, however, a government spending bill was passed to re-open the doors of gun research to the CDC in 2018. The nature of this research is stated as attempting not to limit the possession and access to firearms but to better understand what causes gun violence. Between 2020 and 2021, Congress has allocated at least 25 million to this research through the CDC and the US National Institute of Health. In April, President Biden called gun violence a “Public Health Epidemic,” at a time when the BATFE began pressuring gun owners through a proposed redefinition of receivers to include 80% kits, and reclassification of AR pistols with various brace attachments as SBRs or Short-Barreled Rifles. Dr. Rochelle Walensky took her new position at the CDC during the Covid-19 Pandemic, drawing attention when she extended the eviction moratorium after the US Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional. Zeroing in on Gun Violence Research In an interview with CNN, Dr. Rochelle Walensky stated that she is not talking about Gun Control, and want's to invite gun owners to be part of a conversation. “This is not a conversation about having them or not having them. This is a conversation about how we can make them being here safe,” is how Dr. Walensky phrased her objective. The CDC lists approved grants and projects on its website. A few of the listed programs are as follows: Firearm Behavior Practices and Suicide Risk in U.S. Army Soldiers and VeteransExposure to Violence and Subsequent Weapons Use: Integrative Data Analysis Across Two Urban High-Risk CommunitiesUsing Small-Area Estimates of Firearm Ownership to Investigate Violence Disparities and Firearm Policy EffectsAn Evaluation of the Gun Shop Project: Suicide Prevention Led by the Firearms CommunityPhysical, Social, and Economic Environments and Firearm Fatalities Among Youth On its Fast Facts page, the CDC lists Firearms Violence as a peer to subjects like Child Abuse and Neglect, Sexual Violence, Youth Violence, and Coping With Stress. It categorizes firearms injuries into: Intentionally Self-InflictedUnintentionalInterpersonal ViolenceLegal InterventionUndetermined Intent When the CDC states that firearms-related violence is a serious health concern, however, is where suspicions arise. When statistics such as suicides are included in a list of firearms-related deaths, and that larger number is conflated with homicides, public trust is lost. Further, the divide between using a statistic and the evaluation of a statistic's data is clearly visible within the public conversation on firearms ownership. Putting It All Together Fundamentally, the challenge Dr. Rochelle Walensky will be facing regarding gun violence is two-fold. As she has offered for firearms owners to “come to the table,” she presents herself as extending the olive branch regarding a deeply divisive political subject. Yet in light of her recent disregard for the Constitution when extending the Eviction Moratorium, even after the Supreme Court deemed it Unconstitutional, there's little room for trust between gun owners and her position at the CDC. The second challenge that Dr. Walensky will face is the role the CDC has played in influencing public policy in the last 18 months. Fundamental to firearms ownership in the United States is the belief in self-reliance or self-responsibility. When viewed in light of the last 6 months in Gun Control: the proposed Brace Ban, the proposed redefinition of receivers, the nomination (and withdrawal) of David Chipman, the Russian Ammunition Ban, and most recently, how Gun Control played a major part in why Smith & Wesson is moving to Tennessee, in the short term we have reason to be suspicious about the CDC's latest publicity regarding guns. Further, when gun violence is spoken about as an epidemic, considering that the CDC's response to other things deemed worthy of that descriptor has been authoritarian, and in Dr. Rochelle Walensky's case, Unconstitutional, the concern is further validated. Unfortunately for Dr. Walensky, when she invites gun owners to have a conversation about Gun Control, we simply don't trust her intentions to be honest. Expanding Tactics and Social Pressure The manipulation tactic of imposing one's self as an authority, and then inviting professionals into a conversation, will not work here. If the CDC was interested in the opinions of gun owners, it would be coming to gun owners to listen, not inviting them in such as way as to suggest they deserve to be seen as a valid authority on the matter. With all the attacks on the personal ownership of firearms that look like this, it's no wonder why so many Americans are distrusting of the rhetoric coming from the CDC. The suspicion that the CDC will be used as an avenue for backdoor gun control is not a new idea. However, as both firearms ownership has increased in the last two decades, and the role of the CDC in suggesting public policy in the last 2 years, it is not a surprise that the organization would attempt to reassert the legitimacy of its opinion on things like firearms ownership. By inviting gun owners into a conversation, Dr. Rochelle Walensky presents herself as having legitimacy on the subject of Gun Rights, instead of seeking out professionals and learning from them. What Dr. Walensky and the CDC need to understand on the subject is that they don't possess a table to invite gun owners to. Rather, it is the private citizens and their rights which the CDC needs to appeal to. Until Dr. Walensky realizes that the CDC is bound by the U.S. Constitution, any attempt at conversation will run aground on this reality. 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