Dear Michael Bloomberg,
Hello. My name is David Concepcion, and while I was never one of your constituents, I am a New Yorker now living in New England. I admit I’ve never been a fan of your policies as Mayor of New York City, but I am impressed by your efforts to deal with gun violence in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook massacre in Newtown, CT. Your organization Mayors Against Illegal Guns (founded with the late Boston Mayor Tom Menino), which is now Everytown for Gun Safety, has been particularly good in promoting “common sense” gun laws and putting it into the public debate in a positive way. It is because of this stance and Everytown for Gun Safety’s analytical work why I write you for help.
Right to the point: America is in trouble. You know this because you’ve seen the statistics: we’ve have more mass shootings in 2015 than we’ve had days (356 shootings as of 12/8/15, the 342nd day of 2015); that the numbers of Americans people killed by firearms since 2001 is equal to the number of all American soldiers killed in WWII (400,000); and this year alone, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expects the gun death total this year to be 33,000—or 3,200 people per week. The numbers are horrifying, yet our elected representatives are too afraid or beholden (or both) to do anything to stem the tide. While 80% of National Rifle Association (NRA) members support the almost 90% of Americans who want some common sense gun control measures in place, we seem to be at the mercy of that minority of gun owners and all gun lobbyists who feel any gun law is a slippery slope to losing our Second Amendment rights. What you and Everytown for Gun Safety are doing to counter the NRA is admirable and which is why this open letter is mainly directed towards you and your group.
I know that serious gun control laws will not happen until 2017, when a new Congress convenes that may have the political will and ability to do anything helpful for America. Personally, I don’t like guns at all, but I’m happy to accept what my NRA member buddies have suggested—expanded background checks, listing of all private gun sales, closing the terrorist and gun show loopholes, and a ban on high capacity magazines. Unfortunately too many innocent Americans will die by gunfire until that time. So I have a proposal that will fill the gap and prepare the public and other advocates for the future legislative fight.
The best tool that public safety officials have right now is health statistics. From smoking deaths to deaths by car accidents, comprehensive statistics illustrating the dangers of behaviors and/or items or substances have been indispensable to informing public opinion and policy. However for the last 20 years, the CDC has been barred by Congress from conducting ANY studies into gun violence and/or gun deaths whatsoever. Even the statistics from the Everytown for Gun Safety website had to by culled and extrapolated from FBI, police, hospital, and other databases. The CDC is one of the best organizations to study the issue of gun violence and a public health issue, but are unable to proceed due to the loss of federal funding the Centers need to keep operating. My proposal is this: since the CDC is barred from pursuing an accurate health study and this Congress will not lift the funding ban, I ask you to use a small portion of your considerable wealth to fund a national public health study in to gun deaths and gun violence in America, as well as the real life impacts—physical, emotional, and economic—these have on Americans.
In 1995, the CDC was prepared to spend $2.6 million on such a study, which is what is what public research funds are available today for firearms study. Adjusted for inflation, that $2.6 million would equal $4.1 million today. I suggest using $5 million to fund that important national study that was planned, and use the same CDC protocols to ensure accuracy and proper peer review. The results of the study would be of great use to the 2017 Congress and our next president, who may then fully act upon the results. While many call this “advocacy research,” it can serve as a study on how guns impact the daily lives of Americans, especially if done within correct protocols. It is a step in the right direction for all parties on either side of the debate as it will educate the public and policymakers alike, and can enhance the debate for “common sense” control laws. At the very least, the conversation can be faced honestly and without interference.
We all know why nothing has been done about guns and gun violence even after the death of 20 children in one school. It’s because a group like the NRA has an iron fisted hold on those who could do something. The NRA keeps the pressure on lawmakers to sustain the ban on studying gun violence not as a way to protect gun owners, but as a way of protecting the gun manufacturers that they really represent. Money has seeped into the process and corrupted the workings of policy to hold us all hostage, and America loses as a result. Until such a time that money is driven out of politics, it seems the only thing that can stop a bad lobbyist group with money and power is a good lobbyist group with money and power. Mr. Bloomberg, please use a tiny portion of your considerable wealth to fund a national public health study into the full extent of damage to people and society by gun violence. This is a giant opportunity to help America in the middle of a deadly epidemic. I plead with you as a patriotic American to answer the call.
Thank you for your attention.
cc: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, George Soros, Warren Buffet, and any philanthropist who recognizes that “ensuring domestic tranquility” and “promoting the general welfare” are equally important parts of the Constitution as the 2nd Amendment.