My First Petition

I’m reposting a diary I wrote for Daily Kos (the first one I’ve written there) where I discussed a petition that my wife and I wrote asking the White House to respond to our concerns about the ban on funding for the CDC to do gun research. I’ve never started a petition before, although I consider myself to be relatively active politically and have long espoused the power of social media in mobilizing political action. I’m not sure why this particular issue drove me to try writing a petition, but it’s probably a combination of my belief in supporting research and my hope that this research will lead to a significant reduction in violence. For those who might think that this petition is simply a cover for reducing access to guns, please note that I’m open to supporting whatever conclusions the CDC might reach. I’ll try to keep track of how the proces works and discuss that here. So far, in about two hours, we’ve collected 61 signatures, and the post has moved up the Daily Kos recommended diaries list. I suspect that hitting the critical threshold of 150 signatures–if we get there–will make a big difference because at that point the petition will be “visible” on the White House petitions page. No matter what, I’ve been moved by the comments on Kos and the shared solidarity over this issue. The text of the Daily Kos diary is below the fold.

The mass shootings in Tucson, Aurora, and Sandy Hook have provoked some serious reflection on what we can do as a country to curb gun violence. My wife and I–like many millions of others–have been disturbed to watch as these shootings become a frequent occurrence. One of the factors that may be inhibiting a true understanding of the causes of these horrible crimes is a 1996 ban on funding for research by the Centers for Disease Control that would result in promoting or advocating gun control. The 1996 amendment simply states that “None of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control.” And the original author of the amendment, Jay Dickey,even supports its repeal. To call attention to this issue, my wife and I have created a petition on the White House petitions page. The petition simply calls for the ban preventing the CDC from doing research on the causes of gun violence to be lifted:

As a result of NRA lobbying, politicians passed a 1996 appropriations bill that was amended to include a stipulation that “None of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control.” This restriction against funding for research on gun violence remains in place today. The ban on funding has had a chilling effect that has closed off true scientific inquiry and possibly contributed to the epidemic of gun violence.The CDC is an organization that provides unbiased, evidence-based research. Therefore, they are best-positioned to provide accurate statistics related to gun crimes. Thus, we petition that the CDC receive funding and be allowed to conduct this vital research.

Although this is only a small step toward truly curbing gun violence, we believe it is a vital one, especially given the complexity of the causes of these tragic mass murders. We hope our petition can make some difference in how we make sense of these issues.

Update: Rachel Maddow also discussed this issue recently on her show and in her blog.

Update 2: According to the Times, one of Obama’s proposals involves ending the ban on CDC research, which may make the petition less relevant.

Update 3: President Obama has issued an executive order calling for funded CDC research on gun violence, which probably makes this petition redundant.. Our petition received over 1,100 signatures in two days, which is a pretty impressive achievement. I’m hoping to write about my reflections on the process of using the White House petitions service soon.


  1. Chuck Said,

    January 17, 2013 @ 11:12 am

    Rather than updating this post again, I’ll just add here that the threshold for the number of signatures needed to get a response from the president has increased from 25,000 to 100,000. My petition is still guided by the 25,000 number, but I imagine that the new figure means that very few petitions will actually manage to get a response. Those targeting very local, specific issues might have an even tougher time getting there.

  2. McConnell Said,

    January 17, 2013 @ 8:33 pm

    Chuck, thank you for doing this, although I’m slow to see this. Firearm regulation is deeply important to me, although I’ve discharged them in the past. These objects are nasty for society, and the time is now to agitate for more sane regulation of them.

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