Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons joined 24 senators in calling on leaders of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee to act on legislation to fund gun violence prevention research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A bill was introduced to provide $60 million in funding for the CDC to conduct or support research on firearms safety and gun violence prevention. In the letter, the senators point to the support from the medical and public health communities for recognizing gun violence as a public health crisis. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar stated March 16 there is no impediment to his agency from conducting gun violence research.

In 2015, a CDC official released a statement noting it had commissioned an agenda of possible research goals on gun violence but still lacked the dedicated funding to pursue it: “It is possible for us to conduct firearm-related research within the context of our efforts to address youth violence, domestic violence, sexual violence and suicide, but our resources are very limited.”

“In the wake of the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, it has become increasingly clear that gun violence in America is going to continue unabated until Congress takes meaningful action,” the senators wrote. “On behalf of families across the country, we urge you to join the medical professionals in recognizing gun violence as a public health issue and respectfully request that the HELP Committee consider S.834 at its next executive session.”

A Republican appropriations rider, first authorized by then-Congressman Jay Dickey, R-Arkansas, in 1996, prohibits the CDC from using federal funds to advocate or promote gun control. Some have misconstrued this rider as a ban on CDC research into the causes of gun violence.

The letter is available at bit.ly/2DxZeCa.