by Maryalice Yakutchik
“Enough is enough. It’s time for Congress and the White House to put public health above special interest politics. And it’s time for Congress to stop gagging our scientists, military leaders, and law enforcement officers and stop trying to hide the truth from the American people.”
—Michael R. Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City and Co-Chair of Mayors Against Illegal Guns
Less than a month after the idea surfaced, the two-day Summit on Reducing Gun Violence in America: Informing Policy with Evidence and Analysis convened in mid-January and yielded not only policy recommendations but also a published book.
More than 450 people attended and thousands more watched on the Web and C-SPAN as U.S. and international gun policy experts presented research and personal experiences about gun violence and its prevention. New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels opened the Summit.
Since its close, Summit organizers Daniel Webster and Jon Vernick, along with Stephen Teret, of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research have handled numerous media interviews and requests from policymakers interested in improving gun laws. “I’ve been working on this issue for 22 years and I’ve never seen the ground shift so quickly, creating an opportunity to make change,” says Webster, noting the December 14 Sandy Hook school tragedy changed the public’s attitudes toward gun violence as well as the political dynamics.
The breadth of papers and topics presented at the Summit addressed key policies as well as new ideas that merit federal and state policymakers’ attention, says Webster. The experts’ research was almost instantaneously published in a 320-page book/e-book by Johns Hopkins Press (see below) that was delivered to every member of Congress.
As they propose policies to stem gun violence, policymakers want solid evidence, expertise and experience behind them, Webster says, adding that nothing says credibility more than a group of world experts.
As the Summit’s aftermath continued swirling around him, Webster stole a moment for reflection: “This is why people gravitate to public health. There’s an aspect of intellectual curiosity. But a far bigger driver is, you want to make an impact.”
Print and digital versions of the book Reducing Gun Violence in America: Informing Policy with Evidence and Analysis can be purchased at http://bit.ly/ZgfxbJ or by calling 410-516-6965 or 800-537-5487.
“We want to use this opportunity to cut through the din of the shrill and the incendiary, the rancorous and the baseless, by identifying specific recommendations that evidence-based analysis shows will work.”
Ronald J. Daniels, President, The Johns Hopkins University
“Our gun laws make it easy to profit from selling guns to criminals and traffickers. Universal background checks and strong regulation of gun dealers reduce the flow of guns to criminals.”
Daniel Webster, Director, Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research
“I hope that some kind of bipartisan solution [like Australia’s] can be found for the U.S. and will enable policies to be based on what actually will save lives rather than anything to do with money or politics.”
Rebecca Peters, Surviving Gun Violence, Australia
“Those of us who lost children at Dunblane were deeply shocked by the shooting at Sandy Hook. I wish you strength, and I wish you success in improving the gun laws in this country.”
Mick North, Advocate, Dunblane, Scotland
“The United States is not a more violent nation than other high-income nations. We are not more violent but when we’re violent, we kill. With guns.”
Matthew Miller, Harvard School of Public Health
BULLET POINTS: GUN USE IN THE USA
SOURCES: CDC; Journal of Trauma, January 2011; New England Journal of Medicine, December 2012; Reducing Gun Violence in America, 2013.
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