Gun violence researchers race to protect data from Trump

From Freedom’s Phoenix

Around 11 am Pacific on January 20th, while newly-inaugurated President Trump finished a celebratory lunch in the Capitol Rotunda, Magdalena Cerdá noticed something different about the White House’s website: All of its references to climate change had disappeared. Cerdá is an epidemiologist at UC Davis’ Violence Prevention Research Program, which focuses on another politicized region of science—gun violence. So she knew what that meant.

Disease Control and Prevention, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. “I was on Amtrak between Berkeley and Sacramento,” she says. “So I sent an email to Garen Wintemute saying we needed to start downloading our data immediately.”


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Wintemute, epidemiologist and director of the Violence Prevention Research Program, was prepared. After seeing that climate scientists were systematically downloading crucial information from federal databases, he had drawn up a spreadsheet of the gun-related datasets he uses every day: lists of gun licensees, retailers, and manufacturers; gun tracing data; firearm-related death and injury numbers sorted by categories like race, location, or age. “I basically walked around the building saying, ‘Get it done now,'” Wintemute says. So on inauguration day, as Cerdá says, the Violence Prevention Research Program was less of a lab and more of a “little downloading bootcamp.”  This wasn’t just alarmism. “I’ve been through it before,” says Wintemute. During the Clinton years and early in George W. Bush’s presidency, he worked with a group of academics who partnered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco,

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