Congress has the power to regulate how guns are sold at gun shows, or to prohibit gun show sales entirely.  But it has not done so. This leaves a patchwork of different state rules across the nation. And while states may create and enforce their own rules within their geographical areas, policy choices of neighboring states inevitably bleed across the borders. A recent UC Berkeley study showed that gun violence increased 70 percent in parts of California after Nevada gun shows.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) partially funded the gun show study. However, for two decades, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has not funded gun violence research because the CDC is prohibited by Congress from using appropriated money“to advocate or promote gun control.” Since 2012, the NIH has been subject to a similar restriction, but has interpreted it to permit funding research such as the Nevada gun show study. According to a piece in JAMA:

Why the 2 federal agencies have interpreted the same rider so differently is not clear. Critics say the CDC has overreacted to the amendment’s vague language. But other observers note that the size of the NIH budget gives it less reason to be concerned about retaliation by pro-gun members of Congress.”

To read the entire article, see: Tale of 2 Agencies: CDC Avoids Gun Violence Research But NIH Funds It

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Congress’s Commerce Power