National & Local Experts on Mental Health, Public Health and Policy to Participate

 Panelists Recommend Extreme Risk Protection Orders, Other Tools to Keep Guns Out of Dangerous Hands

Seattle, WA–A panel of Washington State and national mental health, public health and gun violence prevention experts, organized by the Consortium for Risk-Based Firearm Policy, will convene in Seattle on Friday, March 20, from 3-5 p.m. The panel will discuss new, evidence-based approaches for helping to keep guns out of the hands of potentially dangerous individuals. The approaches, including Gun Violence Restraining Orders—known in Washington as Extreme Risk Protection Orders—were first detailed in a 2013 report from the Consortium. Jane Weiss, whose niece, Veronika Weiss was shot and killed on May 23, 2014, during the Isla Vista massacre, will join the experts speaking on the panel.

Friday’s panel comes as part of an effort across the country to highlight the value of the new policy tools the Consortium is recommending to state legislators, as well as to the public. These policies would prevent individuals from purchasing or possessing guns when they are at elevated risk of harming themselves or others.

Extreme Risk Protection Orders are a promising new tool that helps make sure that a person in crisis due to a history of domestic violence, substance abuse, mental illness or other attributable risk factors does not have ready access to a firearm. An Extreme Risk Protection Order is a court order that that can be sought by families and law enforcement to temporarily remove a person’s access to firearms when he or she is a documented threat to him or herself or others. The process allows family members to work with law enforcement and the courts to prevent tragedies.

There are almost two firearm-related deaths every day in Washington State (these accounted for 632 total deaths in 2013). Similar to national data, the majority of gun deaths in Washington are suicides. Suicides accounted for more than 75 percent of all Washington firearm deaths in 2013.

The state’s firearm suicide rate of 6.53 deaths per 100,000 is slightly higher than the national average, as of 2013. With improved policies, the Consortium’s research argues, many of these tragedies could be prevented.

“We need to ensure that those with an elevated risk of violence don’t have access to firearms,” said Josh Horwitz, executive director of the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, the convener of the Consortium, who will participate as part of Friday’s panel. “Our forum will give Washingtonians the opportunity to hear from the experts and have access to the best available evidence that shows how it is possible to keep their neighbors safe.”

Jane Weiss, a gun violence survivor and a teacher, added, “My niece, Veronika Weiss, was murdered last May by an extremely disturbed individual with access to firearms who committed a senseless act of violence near the UC Santa Barbara campus. We responded to that terrible day by passing a gun violence restraining order law in California, and Extreme Risk Protection Orders are a key tool for preventing tragedies in Washington like the one that claimed Veronika. I’m thrilled to be joined by experts in mental health, public health, and law enforcement who appreciate the importance of bringing this vital tool to Washington State. We must take action to save lives, and Friday’s panel will bring the community together to find solutions that work.”

Friday’s panel is open to media, and coverage is welcome. Interview opportunities will also be available ahead of time via phone and on the day of. RSVP is requested; please contact Heather Cabral at


Guns, Public Health & Mental Illness: New Approaches for Keeping Guns from Dangerous People


Friday, March 20, from 3-5 p.m.


Seattle Public Library
Washington Mutual Foundation Meeting Room
Level 4, Room 1
1000 Fourth Avenue, Seattle


Introductory remarks will be provided by:

Robert Feldstein, Director of the Office of Policy & Innovation, Office of the Mayor

Panelists to include:

  • Judge Anne Levinson (ret.) 
  • Leanne Kennedy, MS, LMHC, Practicing Mental Health Counselor, Tacoma, WA
  • Brian O’Neill, Retired investigator, Auburn Police Department
  • Jeffrey Swanson, PhD, Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University School of Medicine
  • Garen Wintemute, MD, MPH, Professor of Emergency Medicine, University of California, Davis
  • Josh Horwitz, JD, Executive Director, Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence


Closing remarks will be provided by:

Jane Weiss, Teacher and Gun Violence Survivor

Jane is the aunt of Veronika Weiss, who was shot and killed in the May 2014 Isla Vista shooting.


The Consortium, a group of mental health and public health experts, issued reports in 2013 to state and federal policy makers making the case for strengthening gun purchase and possession laws to restrict potentially dangerous individuals from having guns.  

The Consortium’s epidemiological research identified behaviors associated with an increased risk of future violence, including – among others – prior acts of violence, threats of violence, and a history of substance and/or alcohol abuse.

Friday’s panel is sponsored by the Consortium for Risk-Based Firearm Policy, Everytown for Gun Safety, Center for Gun Responsibility and The Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence.

The Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence (Ed Fund) is the 501(c)(3) sister organization of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. The organization has engaged in a number of successful public education campaigns over the years aimed at reducing gun death and injury. The Ed Fund can be found on Twitter.

The Center for Gun Responsibility is dedicated to making a lasting impact on reducing gun violence in Washington State and across the nation. The Center is a research and public engagement organization that partners with individuals and organizations that share our goal. We focus on finding and implementing the most effective projects, programs and policies that prevent the harms from gun violence and promote gun responsibility. The Center for Gun Responsibility believes in a comprehensive approach to reduce gun violence.

Everytown for Gun Safety is the largest gun violence prevention organization in the country with more than 2.5 million supporters and more than 40,000 donors including moms, mayors, survivors, and everyday Americans who are fighting for public safety measures that respect the Second Amendment and help save lives. At the core of Everytown are Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a grassroots movement of American mothers founded the day after the Sandy Hook tragedy. Learn more at and follow us @Everytown.