As the tragic shooting in Colorado last week has reignited the debate over guns, one key public policy question — does gun control save lives? — is almost impossible to answer thanks to a dearth of research on the subject. That lack of research is no accident. It’s the product of a concerted campaign by the gun lobby and its allies on Capitol Hill to stymie and even explicitly outlaw scientific research into gun violence in what critics charge is an attempt to deceive the public about the dangers of guns.
Over the past two decades, the NRA has not only been able to stop gun control laws, but even debate on the subject. The Centers for Disease Control funds research into the causes of death in the United States, including firearms — or at least it used to. In 1996, after various studies funded by the agency found that guns can be dangerous, the gun lobby mobilized to punish the agency. First, Republicans tried to eliminate entirely the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, the bureau responsible for the research. When that failed, Rep. Jay Dickey, a Republican from Arkansas, successfully pushed through an amendment that stripped $2.6 million from the CDC’s budget (the amount it had spent on gun research in the previous year) and outlawed research on gun control with a provision that reads: “None of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control.”
A new Media Matters study documents how TV news outlets -- with the exception of MSNBC - all but ignored climate change during the 2012 election season, even covering Joe Biden's smile in the vice presidential debate more often. This blackout fit perfectly into the right's climate change playbook.
When we saw events that illustrated the impacts of climate change in the lead-up to the election, the right tried to get the media to look the other way. As wildfires raged this summer, experts said that journalists should be explaining how climate change worsens the risk of wildfires in the West. But once the media finally began to make those connections, the conservative Media Research Center lashed out at them.
When Arctic sea ice loss broke records this summer, conservative media sought to distract their mainstream counterparts by pointing to Antarctic sea ice. Nevermind that the Associated Press had explained that Antarctic sea ice gains did not undermine global warming and were in fact anticipated -- MRC claimed that AP's report was not to be trusted because it "predictably cited scientists." In the end, the record Arctic sea ice loss received little attention from TV media.
The recent protests against the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline have reached a new height in Texas. On Thursday, Eleanor Fairchild, a 78-year old great-grandmother, was arrested for trespassing after she stood in the path of bulldozers and machinery on her 300-acre ranch outside of Winnsboro, Texas that were tearing down trees to make the way for pipeline construction.
Fairchild, who was joined in her civil disobedience by actress and activist Darryl Hannah, explained her actions in a video saying:
Get off my land. Period. I don’t want tar sands anywhere in the United States. I am mad. This land is my land. It’s been our land since ’83, our home is on it. They are going to destroy the woods, and also they could destroy the springs. It’s devastating, but it also is not very good to have tar sands anywhere in the United States. This is not just about my land, it’s about all of our country. It needs to be stopped.