By Timothy Wheeler, MD
In this story in today’s Washington Post, reporter Todd Frankel continues a long tradition of media cheerleading for gun control passed off as straight reporting. Frankel did go through the motions of seeking the opposing view in this running controversy by interviewing me. But his story fits the long-accepted major media template for reporting any story on federally funded gun research. That template goes something like this—valiant public health researchers seek a cure for “gun violence” but retrograde gun lobby shills in Congress cruelly and inexplicably cut off research funding for the poor doctors, who after all only want to prevent more “gun violence” deaths. And that’s exactly what Frankel did with this story. Uninformed readers understandably choose sides against the gun lobby in favor of the heroic public health researchers. Which is, of course, what the Washington Post wants you to do.
Reporter Todd Frankel quotes six researchers and politicians on the anti-gun side but only one doctor—yours truly—on the pro-gun rights side. Frankel knew I was intimately involved in the events around Congress’s defunding of the CDC’s gun research back in 1996, because I told him I was and backed it up with proof. And after our interview I sent him links to my thoroughly documented three-part series “Public Health Gun Control: A Brief History”. Here are some of the specific events I told Frankel about, and he ultimately ignored, that prompted Congress to take away the CDC’s gun research funding. All events are thoroughly documented in the series:
What the Washington Post Reporter Didn’t Tell You:
1) In 1995 the CDC funded a newsletter put out by the Trauma Foundation, a San Francisco gun control lobby. The newsletter called for readers to “organize a picket at gun manufacturing sites” and to “work for campaign finance reform to weaken the gun lobby’s political clout.” This was a blatant abuse of taxpayer money.
2) In 1989 top CDC official Dr. P. W. O’Carroll said, on record, “We’re going to systematically build a case that owning firearms causes deaths. We’re doing the most we can do, given the political realities.” Scientific research should be dedicated to learning the truth, not pushing a political agenda.
3) In a Winter 1993 publication Public Health Policy for Preventing Violence, CDC officials recommend two strategies for preventing firearm injuries: allowing only police, guards, and the military to have guns, or the outright prohibition of gun ownership.
4) In a 1994 Washington Post article, which was slanted in much the same way today’s article is, CDC official Dr. Mark Rosenberg was quoted as wanting his agency to create a public perception of firearms as “dirty, deadly—and banned.”
These are all significant historical events that influenced Congress back in the mid-1990s. They go a long way in explaining why Congress cut off the CDC’s gun research funding. It is unfortunate that the Washington Post editors and reporters prefer you didn’t know about them. After all, they have an obligation not to suppress facts that they consider embarrassing or that weigh against their own avowed dedication to ever more gun control. But now you know the whole story, including the parts that the Washington Post doesn’t want you to know.
—Timothy Wheeler, MD is director of Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership, a project of the Second Amendment Foundation.