Top Republican lawmakers attacked the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for scrubbing defensive gun use estimates from its website following a report from The Reload detailing gun-control advocates’ role in the decision.
House GOP Chairwoman Elise Stefanik, the number three ranking Republican for the soon-to-be House majority, accused the CDC of “acting as an arm of the Democratic Party” by agreeing to delete data from its website after private pressure from advocates. She decried the role of the White House in connecting the advocates with top agency officials.
“In pursuit of their unconstitutional anti-gun agenda, the Biden Administration is hiding the facts of how law-abiding citizens use their Constitutionally-protected 2nd Amendment rights to keep our families and communities safe,” she said. “The CDC is acting as an arm of the Democratic Party, further politicizing the facts, and shamefully lying to the American people to advance their Far Left agenda.”
Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy will provide direct oversight of the CDC in his role as the new ranking Republican member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Like Stefanik, he expressed outrage at the removal of self-defense statistics at the behest of activists.
“Scrubbing government websites of statistics and evidence that are inconvenient to one side’s political narrative is absolutely unacceptable,” Cassidy told The Reload. “Every day, a law-abiding American uses their God-given Second Amendment right to defend their life and the lives of their family. These Americans shall not be bullied, diminished, or lumped in with the criminals they are forced to defend themselves because of the liberal governments who refuse to enforce the laws on the books.”
Congressman August Pfluger (R.-TX) also accused the CDC of succumbing to politicization.
“Why is the CDC removing studies at the behest of gun control advocates?” he tweeted. “The politicization of our institutions must end.”
The Republican outcry stems from the agency’s decision to remove from its firearm “fast facts” website a CDC-commissioned review of studies that noted estimates of defensive gun uses by published scholars range between 60,000 and 2.5 million times per year in the United States. Emails obtained by The Reload detail a months-long pressure campaign by a trio of gun control activists, ultimately culminating in a private meeting between the trio and CDC officials, which precipitated the CDC agreeing to remove the data from its website.
The activists–Newtown Action Alliance chairwoman Po Murray, GVPedia’s Devin Hughes, and Mark Bryant of the Gun Violence Archive–focused their complaints on the inclusion of upper-bound estimates derived from a well-known study by Florida State University criminologist Gary Kleck. The trio argued the study, which has been corroborated by several subsequent studies, was misleading. Bryant went further, though, and argued it’s 2.5 million defensive uses estimate should be removed from the cite because it has been cited to argue against new gun-control laws.
“And while that very small study by Gary Kleck has been debunked repeatedly by everyone from all sides of this issue [even Kleck] it still remains canon by gun rights folks and their supporting politicians and is used as a blunt instrument against gun safety regulations every time there is a state or federal level hearing,” Bryant wrote in an email to CDC officials after their meeting. “Put simply, in the time that study has been published as ‘a CDC Study’ gun violence prevention policy has ground to a halt, in no small part because of the misinformation that small study provided.”
Kleck disputed Bryant’s assertions. He said he stood by his research, and accused the CDC of acting as a “tool” for the advocates.
“CDC is just aligning itself with the gun-control advocacy groups,” Kleck told The Reload on Thursday. “It’s just saying: ‘we are their tool, and we will do their bidding.’ And that’s not what a government agency should do.”
Republicans have vowed to investigate nearly every arm of President Biden’s administration. None of those who spoke about the CDC’s removal of defensive gun use data directly committed to an investigation, but Rep. Stefanik promised to hold the president accountable for the move.
“I will continue to provide a critical check on Joe Biden and hold Democrats accountable for attacking the Constitutional rights of Americans,” Stefanik said.
Republicans will assume control of the House once it starts a new session in January 2023.