On Thursday, four former U.S. surgeons general called on Congress to end the twenty-year ban on federal funding for gun violence research, which has long been criticized by the medical community.

“Most major medical societies — including the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Society and National Association of Medical Examiners — want the ban reversed,” writes The Washington Post‘s Todd C. Frankel.

“Even the man who wrote the original 1996 amendment, former representative Jay Dickey (R-Ark.), has called on Congress to allow the CDC to study gun violence. He acknowledged that his amendment was a mistake.”

Regina Benjamin, Joycelyn Elders, and David Satcher wrote, “It is only through public research that we can begin to address this menace to our nation’s public health.” Richard Carmona wrote his own letter to Congress featuring the same message, noting that “we really have no idea what policies and/or regulation may be needed to ensure public safety” without appropriate research.

The action from the former surgeons general was organized by Americans for Responsible Solutions, the gun violence prevention group founded by former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

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