WASHINGTON, DC – Today marks the five-year anniversary of the deadly mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.  Five years after this unspeakable tragedy, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) is urging Congress to take action to prevent gun violence and lift the ban on federal research into gun violence:

“Today, we remember the innocent victims we lost and those who tried to save them.  Twenty bright, young kids should be sitting in their sixth grade classrooms today.  But their lives were cut short by gun violence.

“We as a nation must do more to prevent gun violence.  Too many families have suffered tragic losses and hardships as a result of unnecessary gun deaths and injuries. 

“Congress must do more to help prevent these types of tragedies from recurring.  We need bipartisan, commonsense action.  I know many in Congress will not vote to impose universal background checks, or ban military-style assault weapons like the ones that have been used over and over again in mass-shootings.  But I remain hopeful that my colleagues on the other side will at least join us in finally lifting the ban on federal research into gun violence.”

A 1996 rider to an Appropriations law prohibits federal funds from being used to advocate or promote gun control.  The author of the original provision, former Congressman Jay Dickey (R-AR), who passed away earlier this year, changed his mind and supported funding U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gun violence research and stated that the rider should not stand in the way of researching the epidemic of gun violence: “I wish we had started the proper research and kept it going all this time,” Mr. Dickey said in an interview with the Huffington Post in 2015. “I have regrets.”

Senator Reed has called on Congress to hold a hearing on funding gun violence research and provide dedicated funding for the CDC to gather data and conduct research into the causes and prevention of gun violence in the United States.

“‘You can’t regulate evil’ is a popular refrain from some who oppose commonsense gun control.  You can’t just surrender to it either – that is the fundamental purpose of all criminal law.  If Republican leaders stop stonewalling a vote, we can study, learn, and develop effective strategies to reduce firearm-related deaths and prevent future mass-killings.  It shouldn’t be easier to buy an assault weapon than it is to get data from your government about how often these kinds of guns are used in mass-shootings.  We need to reverse this restrictive law.  It could and should be done on a bipartisan basis before the next anniversary of Sandy Hook or another mass-shooting.”