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On November 19, 2015, the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence (Ed Fund), in partnership with New Yorkers Against Gun Violence (NYAGV) and New York Legislators for Gun Violence Prevention (NYLGVP), convened a forum at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City to discuss gun violence prevention policies. More than 50 individuals from various fields—including mental health, domestic violence prevention, law enforcement, and public policy—attended.
Members of the Ed Fund-organized Consortium for Risk-Based Firearm Policy (including Ed Fund Executive Director Joshua Horwitz, Jeffrey Swanson of the Duke University School of Medicine, Beth McGinty of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Paul Appelbaum of the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons) presented evidence from their report, “Guns, Public Health, and Mental Illness: An Evidence-Based Approach for State Policy.”
They were joined by Lieutenant Richard Carrion of the Newburgh Police Department, Leah Gunn Barrett of NYAGV, and Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh of NYLGVP. In addition, Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Christopher Ryan, gave a welcome to the attendees. Ryan provided an overview of the role of prosecutors and noted that the panel was a “very important … opportunity to listen to academic leaders on gun violence. “
The panel emphasized that factors such as a history of violence, domestic violence, and substance abuse can increase an individual’s risk of dangerous behavior more than mental illness on its own. The panel stressed that firearm prohibitions should focus on those criteria that are known to raise an individual’s risk of dangerous behavior.
Although New York laws mirror most of the federal firearm prohibitions, the panel discussed important opportunities to improve gun violence prevention policy in the state. For example, something like California’s Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO) —a policy that would allow family members and law enforcement to petition the courts to temporarily suspend firearms access during periods of crisis, irrespective of a mental illness diagnosis—would be an important tool to keep New Yorkers safe. Learn more about the GVRO policy here.
The Ed Fund has sponsored similar events in California, Wisconsin, Illinois, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Washington, and Minnesota and looks forward to continuing its work with partners in New York.