Dickey, who was, in his own words, "the NRA’s point person in Congress" until he left office in 2001, has been praised in some circles for expressing regret about pro-gun legislation he was instrumental in passing in 1996:
Looking back, nearly 20 years later, Jay Dickey is apologetic.He said the same thing on the radio today -- and he insisted that his law was misunderstood:
He is gone from Congress, giving him space to reflect on his namesake amendment that, to this day, continues to define the rigid politics of gun policy... he helped pass a restriction of federal funding for gun violence research in 1996 ... dampening federal research for years and discouraging researchers from entering the field.
Now, as mass shootings pile up, including last week's killing of nine at a community college in Oregon, Dickey admitted to carrying a sense of responsibility for progress not made.
"I wish we had started the proper research and kept it going all this time," Dickey, an Arkansas Republican, told the Huffington Post in an interview. "I have regrets."
STEVE INSKEEP, NPR: ... [Dickey's] law ordered the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention never to fund research that could be seen as advocacy for gun control. Since the 1990s, that provision has commonly stopped any gun studies, because researchers don't want to risk losing federal money. And that is what Jay Dickey regrets. The Arkansas politician and owner of two shotguns says he just wanted the CDC to follow a simple rule.Really, Jay? You had no intention of stopping federally funded gun research altogether?
JAY DICKEY: Don't let any of those dollars go to gun control advocacy.
INSKEEP: So that's what the intent was. Did you intend to cut off all research on the effects of guns or gun ownership in society?
DICKEY: We didn't think about that. It turned out that that's what happened, but it wasn't aimed at that. And it wasn't necessary that all research stop. It just couldn't be the collection of data so that they can advocate gun control. That's all we were talking about, but for some reason it just stopped altogether.
That's odd, because you and your allies tried to get rid of the part of the CDC that oversaw this research, and then set out to precisely the amount of money devoted to the research:
Initially, pro-gun lawmakers sought to eliminate [the CDC's National Center for Injury Control and Prevention] completely, arguing that its work was “redundant” and reflected a political agenda. When that failed, they turned to the appropriations process. In 1996, Representative Jay Dickey, Republican of Arkansas, succeeded in pushing through an amendment that stripped $2.6 million from the disease control centers’ budget, the very amount it had spent on firearms-related research the year before.That zeroing out was reversed -- but it was replaced with an 80% cut in funding, accompanied by severe restrictions, as noted in a 1997 Frontline report:
After a heated battle in the House and Senate, the CDC's $2.6 million budget for firearm research was finally restored last summer, but legislators earmarked the money to study traumatic brain injuries instead. Also, the budget bill included specific language that stated no CDC money could be used "to advocate or promote gun control." As a result, CDC's budget for pure firearm injury related research dropped 80% to about $500,000 this year.And while Dickey now says he wanted gun research continued -- jut not the nasty anti-gun kind -- a quote in that Frontline report strongly suggests that he thought all gun research was a lot of nonsense:
"Does anyone dispute that a person who is struck by a bullet can be seriously hurt or killed," Dickey stated in one press release. "Do we need to spend almost three million of taxpayer money for 'research' to discover this?"So spare us the crocodile tears, Jay. You killed off important gun research, and you knew exactly what you were doing. If you want to express remorse now, admit your intent back in the 1990s. Don't pretend the consequences were unintended.