Pennsylvania-Based Experts to Participate

Philadelphia, PA –A panel of Pennsylvania-based and national mental health, public health and gun violence prevention experts, organized by the Consortium for Risk-Based Firearm Policy, will convene in Philadelphia on Thursday, February 5, from 4-6 p.m., to discuss new approaches to keeping guns out of the hands of potentially dangerous individuals. The approaches, including a gun violence restraining order, were first detailed in a research report from the Consortium.

Thursday’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. These policies would prevent individuals from purchasing or possessing guns when they are at elevated risk of harming themselves or others. In Pennsylvania, almost four people die every day from firearm-related injuries (1,451 total deaths in 2013). Similar to national data, the majority of gun deaths in Pennsylvania are suicides. Firearm suicides consistently represent more than half of Pennsylvania gun deaths, and accounted for 63% of all firearm deaths in 2013. With improved policies, 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, and also a member of the Consortium himself who will participate on Thursday’s panel. “Our forum will give Pennsylvanians the opportunity to hear from the experts and have access to the best available evidence that shows how it is possible to keep their state safe.”

Shira Goodman, executive director of CeaseFirePA, Pennsylvania’s largest gun violence prevention organization, added, “We are pleased to work with our national partners to bring this discussion to Pennsylvania, where we really need to focus on better ways to identify who might become dangerous to themselves or others and then develop policies and procedures that promote safety by keeping guns – at least temporarily – out of those hands. Working together, medical professionals, law enforcement, academics, policy makers and public and mental health professionals can develop better polices.”

A gun violence restraining order, known as a GVRO, is a promising new strategy developed by the Consortium to make sure that a person in mental health, substance abuse or other crisis does not have ready access to a firearm. A GVRO is a court order that temporarily prevents a person who is at risk of harm to him or herself or others from purchasing or possessing a firearm. This process allows family members to work with law enforcement and the courts to prevent tragedies.

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


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


Thursday, February 5, 4-6 p.m.


Temple University Beasley School of Law
Duane Morris LLP Moot Courtroom
1719 N. Broad Street, Philadelphia


Panelists to include:

  • Edward McCann, JD, Deputy District Attorney of The City of Philadelphia
  • Jeffrey Swanson, PhD, Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University School of Medicine
  • Shannon Frattaroli, PhD, MPH, Associate Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • Shira Goodman, JD, Executive Director, CeaseFirePA
  • Josh Horwitz, JD, Executive Director, Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence
  • Alisa R. Gutman, MD, PhD, Psychiatrist, Philadelphia VA Medical Center; Medical Director, Penn Human Rights Clinic; Clinical Associate, Perlman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania


Introductory and closing remarks will be provided by:

  • Scott Burris, JD, Professor and Co-Director, The Center for Health Law, Policy and Practice at Temple University Beasley School of Law



The Consortium, a group of mental health and public health experts issued reports late last year 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.

Thursday’s panel is sponsored by Temple University Beasley School of Law, the Consortium for Risk-Based Firearm Policy, CeaseFirePA, 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.