Alex Azar, HHS secretary, signals he’s open to gun violence research

February 15, 2018

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar signaled Thursday he is open to researching gun violence, despite a legislative add-on that bars the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from promoting gun control.

“My understanding is that the rider does not in any way impede our ability to conduct our research mission. It’s simply about advocacy,” Mr. Azar told the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The secretary was pressed on the issue following a tragic school shooting in Florida on Wednesday that killed 17.

Democrats say a recurring provision, or “rider,” that is attached to legislation is holding back the CDC’s efforts to probe the roots of gun violence and improve safety.

The provision reads: “None of the funds made available in this title may be used, in whole or in part, to advocate or promote gun control.”

Rep. Kathy Castor, Florida Democrat, pressed Mr. Azar to be proactive on the research side.

“We certainly will,” Mr. Azar said. “We’re in the science business and the evidence-generating business and so I will have our agency certainly be working in this field as they do across the whole broad spectrum of disease control and prevention.”