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On May 23, 2016, the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence (Ed Fund), in partnership with Colorado Ceasefire and Mental Health Colorado, convened a forum at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Campus (Anschutz) in Aurora, Colorado to discuss gun violence prevention policies. More than 100 individuals from various fields — including mental health, domestic violence prevention, suicide prevention, emergency room medicine, 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, Shannon Frattaroli of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Amy Barnhorst of the University of California at Davis) presented evidence from their report, “Guns, Public Health, and Mental Illness: An Evidence-Based Approach for State Policy.”
They were joined by Tom Mauser, author and advocate whose son Daniel was killed in the shooting at Columbine High School, and Chief Dwight Henninger, Police Chief of Vail, Colorado. In addition, Eileen McCarron and Mary Blegen of Colorado Ceasefire gave closing statements to the attendees and invited attendees to have a discussion of steps moving forward to reduce gun violence in Colorado.
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 Colorado. 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 Coloradans safe. Learn more about the GVRO policy here.
The Ed Fund has sponsored similar forums in California, Wisconsin, Illinois, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Washington, Minnesota, New York, Delaware, and New Jersey and looks forward to continuing its work with partners in Colorado.