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Amy Barnhorst, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at UC Davis Health and vice chair of Community Mental Health, is the first recipient of the Horwitz Public Health Award from the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.
The coalition is the oldest gun violence prevention organization in the nation. It develops evidence-based policies and aggressively lobbies to make gun violence rare.
Recognized for leadership, effective communication
Barnhorst is a member of the Consortium for Risk-based Firearm Policy, a branch of the coalition. The group includes physicians, epidemiologists, gun violence researchers, attorneys and other experts who advise state and federal policy makers on evidence-based firearm legislation.
The coalition’s work has led to Extreme Risk Protection Orders or Gun Violence Restraining Orders (also known as ‘red flag laws’) in 15 states. The laws allow law enforcement and family members to temporarily remove firearms from a loved one in crisis. Barnhorst received the award for her leadership in developing and educating about California’s Gun Violence Restraining Orders.
The award is named after Josh Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence.
Treating individuals in crisis
Barnhorst treats patients with serious mental illness who are in an emergency room, in jail or on a psychiatric unit. She believes that mass shootings and gun violence aren’t necessarily the result of untreated mental health issues or failures by the mental health system. Focusing on mental health only minimizes the role of guns as a root cause of the violence problem, she has said.
Barnhorst has published on firearms, mental illness and the law, and presented to policy makers around the country. She also will direct the nation’s first gun violence prevention training program for health care professionals, recently established at UC Davis Health with California Governor Gavin Newsom’s approval of Assembly Bill 521.