The Centers For Disease Control (CDC) deleted a reference to a study it commissioned after a group of gun-control advocates complained it made passing new restrictions more difficult. The lobbying campaign spanned months and culminated with a private meeting between CDC officials and three advocates last summer, a collection of emails obtained by The Reload show. Introductions from the White House and Senator Dick Durbin’s (D., Ill.) office helped the advocates reach top officials at the agency after their initial attempt to reach out went unanswered.
The advocates focused their complaints on the CDC’s description of its review of studies that estimated defensive gun uses (DGU) happen between 60,000 and 2.5 million times per year in the United States–attacking criminologist Gary Kleck’s work establishing the top end of the range. “[T]hat 2.5 Million number needs to be killed, buried, dug up, killed again and buried again,” Mark Bryant, one of the attendees, wrote to CDC officials after their meeting. “It is highly misleading, is used out of context and I honestly believe it has zero value – even as an outlier point in honest DGU discussions.” Bryant, who runs the Gun Violence Archive (GVA), argued Kleck’s estimate has been damaging to the political prospects of passing new gun restrictions and should be eliminated from the CDC’s website. Despite initially standing behind the description in the defensive gun use section of its “fast facts” website on gun violence, the CDC backtracked after a previously-undisclosed virtual meeting with the advocates on September 15th, 2021.
The decision to remove a CDC-commissioned report from the agency’s website on gun statistics at the apparent behest of gun-control advocates may further strain its relationship with Congressional overseers, especially pro-gun Republicans who are set to take control of the House next year. The relationship between the two, already frayed over the Coronavirus pandemic, could reach new lows not seen in decades. During the 1990s, Congress put restrictions on CDC funding in response to officials openly working with gun-control groups to try and ban handguns. “We need to revolutionize the way we look at guns, like what we did with cigarettes,” Mark Rosenberg, director of the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention, told The Washington Post in 1994. “It used to be that smoking was a glamour symbol–cool, sexy, macho. Now it is dirty, deadly–and banned.”
https://thereload.com/emails-cdc-remove ... e-meeting/Kleck, Professor Emeritus at Florida State University’s College of Criminology and Criminal Justice, stood by his research. He said the CDC did not reach out to him for his perspective before making the change. He argued the removal of the reference to his estimate was “blatant censorship” and said it was evidence of the politicization of the agency. “CDC is just aligning itself with the gun-control advocacy groups,” Kleck told The Reload. “It’s just saying: ‘we are their tool, and we will do their bidding.’ And that’s not what a government agency should do.”
The Reload is journalist Stephan Gutowski and David Yamane has written for it.