Consortium Researchers and Local Experts Convene at University of New Mexico

NM Panel 3-10-15On March 10, 2015, the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence (Ed Fund), in partnership with University of New Mexico’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, convened a gun violence prevention forum at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. More than 80 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 Josh Horwitz; Jeffrey Swanson of the Duke University School of Medicine; Garen Wintemute and Amy Barnhorst of University of California, Davis; and Beth McGinty of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health) presented evidence from their report, “Guns, Public Health, and Mental Illness: An Evidence-Based Approach for State Policy.”

They were joined by Lieutenant Glenn St. Onge of the Albuquerque Police Department Crisis Intervention Section.

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 also focus on those criteria.

New Mexico laws do not mirror most of the federal firearm prohibitions, and 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) mechanism—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 Mexicans safe. Learn more about the GVRO policy here.

Miranda Viscoli of New Mexicans for Gun Safety concluded the event by encouraging those in attendance to join in the next steps toward implementing the Consortium’s recommendations.

The Ed Fund has sponsored similar events in California, Wisconsin, Illinois, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, and looks forward to continuing its work with partners in New Mexico.

Local coverage of the event can be found here:

Our View: Gun violence: New ways to fight it

Taking Mental Health Out Of The Gun Violence Debate

Guns And Public Health In New Mexico