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On September 7, 2016, the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence (Ed Fund), in partnership with the Texas Gun Sense, convened a forum at the Texas State Capitol Building in Austin, Texas 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, Beth McGinty of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 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.” Experts from the areas of law enforcement and mental health rounded out the four person panel.
Andrea Brauer of community group Texas Gun Sense gave opening and closing statement to the attendees and invited the crowd to have a discussion of steps moving forward to reduce gun violence in Texas. Leslie Ervin, a Texas Gun Sense board member, shared her personal story about her son’s struggles and why a gun violence protection order is vital in getting loved ones in crisis the help that they need.
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.
Specifically, the panel discussed important opportunities to improve gun violence prevention policy in Texas. For example, legislation like California’s Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO) —a policy that allows 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 Texans safe.
The Ed Fund has sponsored similar forums in California, Wisconsin, Illinos, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Washington, Minnesota,