Kristi Noem and her Republican Party have spent the last couple decade promoting guns as an indispensable part of everyday life. Perhaps more than coincidentally, since 2017, guns have overtaken cars as the leading killer of children and young adults in America:
We got on traffic fatalities in the 1960s and created federal programs to reduce the needless slaughter of children on the highways. We could make a comparable effort, to reduce gun bloodshed, if the gun industry weren’t standing in the way:
Two decades ago, the CDC proclaimed the reduction in deaths attributable to motor vehicle crashes to be one of the most substantial public health achievements of the 20th century.2 Most important, the United States established an infrastructure permitting continuous improvements in motor vehicle safety. At the forefront of this effort has been the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a federal agency whose mission is to save lives and prevent injuries caused by road-traffic crashes. Firearms, however, are one of the few products whose safety isn’t regulated by a designated federal agency.
…Injury and fatality data are of little use without research to uncover important trends, disparities, and associations. Such research is critical to developing, implementing, and evaluating injury-prevention initiatives. Although substantial federal funding has been devoted to research on motor vehicle crashes, the firearm industry and gun-rights organizations, led by the National Rifle Association (NRA), have been effective at keeping federal dollars from financing firearm-related research. Between 1996 and 2019, little federal research funding was appropriated for firearm-injury prevention, owing in large part to the Dickey Amendment. Unsurprisingly, researchers and policymakers know much more about the circumstances surrounding deaths from motor vehicle crashes and effective interventions for preventing traffic-related injuries and deaths than they do about firearm-related harm. Only in the past couple of years has there been a substantial increase in federal funding for firearm-related research — though not to levels commensurate with the size of the problem. The work of federally funded groups, such as the Firearm Safety Among Children and Teens consortium, will be important in advancing the science of firearm-injury prevention [Lois K. Lee, Katherine Douglas, and David Hemenway, “Crossing Lines—A Change in the Leading Cause of Death Among U.S. Children,” New England Journal of Medicine, 2022.04.16].