Consortium Researchers Join Local Experts to Discuss Gun Violence Prevention in Pennsylvania

Philadelphia Forum Feb 2015On February 5, 2015, the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence (Ed Fund), in partnership with CeaseFirePA, convened a gun violence prevention forum at Temple University in Philadelphia.

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 and Shannon Frattaroli 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.” More than 60 individuals were in attendance from varied fields including mental health, domestic violence prevention, law enforcement, and public 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 also focus on those 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 suspend firearms access during periods of crisis, irrespective of a mental illness diagnosis. Dr. Alisa R. Gutman, a psychiatrist from Philadelphia Veteran Affairs Medical Center, and Edward McCann, Deputy District Attorney for Philadelphia, discussed the potential benefits of the GVRO in their everyday encounters as professionals.  Learn more about the GVRO policy here.

The Ed Fund has sponsored similar events in California (where a GVRO law was recently enacted), Wisconsin, Illinois, and Virginia and looks forward to continuing its work with partners in Pennsylvania.

Read local coverage of the event from the Philadelphia Tribune.