Consortium Experts Convene at Virginia State Capitol

Virginia ForumOn January 12, 2015, the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence (Ed Fund) convened a gun violence prevention forum on the State Capitol grounds in Richmond, Virginia. This forum was one in a series of events designed to communicate the evidence-based recommendations of the Consortium for Risk-Based Firearm Policy. Similar events have previously been conducted in California, Wisconsin, and Illinois.

The forum included remarks from Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran. Both men emphasized the need for effective gun violence prevention policies in Virginia. The diverse audience of more than 40 attendees included lawmakers, mental health providers, medical professionals, law enforcement officers, and domestic violence prevention advocates.

Members of the Ed Fund-organized Consortium (including Ed Fund Executive Director Josh Horwitz; Jeffrey Swanson of the Duke University School of Medicine; Shannon Frattaroli of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; Richard Bonnie of the University of Virginia School of Law; and Liza Gold of Georgetown University School of Medicine) presented evidence from their report, “Guns, Public Health, and Mental Illness: An Evidence-Based Approach for State Policy.” The panel emphasized that—more than mental illness on its own—factors such as a history of violence, domestic violence and substance abuse can increase an individual’s risk of dangerous behavior, and firearm prohibitions should focus on these criteria.

Panelists also discussed the Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO) mechanism—a policy that would allow family members and law enforcement to petition the courts to temporarily prohibit individuals from accessing firearms during periods of crisis—that was recently enacted into law in California. Learn more about the GVRO policy here.

Ed Fund Virginia State Director Lori Haas concluded the discussion by inviting those in attendance to work with her to bring evidence-informed gun violence prevention policies to Virginia.