Colorado Department Of Health Calls For Repeal Of The Dickey Amendment

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Colorado's Department of Public Health and Environment is  calling for a repeal of the Dickey Amendment - the law that essentially limits federal funding for gun violence research. Mountain west states have some of the highest rates of gun-related deaths in the country.

How to prevent gun violence is on the top of everyone’s minds today. Dr. Larry Wolk, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, says says people want answers as to what causes mass shootings.

“Is it ownership of guns?" asks Dr. Wolk. "Is it access to guns? Is it mental health issues? Is it bullying? And all we can say is that we don’t really know because we don’t have the extensive data and studies that can be done.”

The 1996 Dickey Amendment prohibits the use of federal funds to, "advocate or promote gun control." Over the last two decades that’s been interpreted as a ban on any research on gun-related violence.

While Colorado’s health department and some of the legislators in the state are pushing for a repeal, political leaders in the rest of the Mountain West region have been largely silent or opposed.  

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.