Spring 2018: Volume 74, Number 1
By Shelley Mackaman, Ph.D. Board of Trustees
On March 24, 2018 WSPA psychologists participated in marches and rallies throughout Washington and the entire country in support of the March for Our Lives movement begun by the Parkland survivors to prevent further gun violence. Overall, there were 862 sister events throughout the U.S. with the Seattle March for Our Lives the main WSPA sponsored event in our state. The Seattle March began at 10:00am in Cal Anderson Park with Senator Maria Cantwell and Attorney General Bob Ferguson inviting the crowd of tens of thousands of marchers to support gun violence prevention.
APA and WSPA advocate “a public health approach to gun violence prevention, supporting evidenced-based programs and policies that can reduce the occurrence and impact of fire-arm related violence in the United States.” APA has created an advocacy approach that includes:
- Improve and Expand School-based Violence Prevention Efforts
- Support Research and Evidenced-based Public Policies on Violence
- Enhance Access to Mental Health and Substance Use Services
- Make Communities Safer
WSPA will be supporting and advocating for these policies here in Washington. We plan to continue to show our public support of these and other issues relevant to psychology in our state through several avenues including marches, public information opportunities, letters of support to our policy makers, and even by sponsoring or supporting relevant legislation.
Prior to the March, psychologists had long been advocates of repealing the 1996 Dickey Amendment that ruled the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cannot use money “to advocate for or promote gun control.” Though the measure didn’t explicitly ban gun violence research, previous funding was withdrawn and ripples were felt throughout federal agencies including the National Institute of Health. Ultimately, even private funding for gun violence research became extremely difficult to obtain. Ironically, Jay Dickey, later in his life, reversed course and expressed the desire to turn gun violence research “over to science and to take it away from the politicians.”
On March 23, 2018, the day before the March for Our Lives, President Trump signed the Omnibus Spending Bill that included a brief sentence allowing that the CDC “has the authority to conduct research into the causes of gun violence.” The statement seemingly lifts the ban on gun violence research; however, there was no funding for research included in the Spending Bill. As psychologists, we are involved in several facets of this issue from prevention, early intervention, identification of potential perpetrators, protecting the public, treating mental illness, assessing risk, and treating the survivors and first responders of gun violence. Having evidenced-based information from quality research is essential to assist us as we serve our communities. WSPA will continue to advocate for and promote efforts to fund this highly needed research.
It took several hours for the marchers to wind their way through downtown Seattle to Seattle Center where Gov. Jay Inslee and others spoke with enthusiasm to the crowd. Local celebrity performers Brandi Carlisle and Dave Matthews finished out the day. Apparently Dave Matthews has lost a sister and an uncle to gun violence. As I left the area and went to find my bus home, a young high school-aged man stopped me and read the sign I was carrying, “Psychologists Want to Protect America’s Children from Gun Violence.” “You’re a Psychologist?” he asked. “Yes,” I replied. “Thanks for all that you do,” he said. He was so sincere.
March for Science
WSPA also joined APA in supporting the March for Science on April 14, 2018. APA signed on as an official partner calling “it a demonstration of the importance of science for improving people’s lives and benefiting society”. WSPA also provided signs for members to download and print.