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Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research

Center News and Events

Reducing Law Enforcement Violence and Building Trust: Data to Guide Enforcement of Gun Laws in Baltimore

June 2020

A new report released by researchers at the Center finds broad “stop-and-search” practices used for many years by the Baltimore police to look for illegally possessed guns have minimal, if any impact on gun violence. Not only do these practices result in mental and physical harm to those who are unjustifiably searched, they undermine community trust in police.

The research, led by Daniel Webster and Cass Crifasi, also found that residents of communities most impacted by gun violence in Baltimore want more focused and accountable law enforcement to reduce gun violence. Highly focused enforcement of gun laws consistently led to fewer shootings in Baltimore and in other cities where research on focused gun carrying suppression has been studied. The same was true for focused-deterrence initiatives which couple the prospects of incarceration for shootings with social supports to support those at highest risk for committing violence.

The authors also make a series of recommendations for approaches to enforcing gun laws in Baltimore that are focused, effective, constitutional, and respectful of community concerns. Specifically, Baltimore police should adopt a more focused strategy to enforce gun laws that is driven by intelligence and data from criminal investigations; targets high-risk individuals; is led by small teams of officers trained in constitutional policing and working out of police districts; and is conducted with close supervision and oversight to promote trust in the police in local communities.

The report, Reducing Violence and Building Trust: Data to Guide Enforcement of Gun Laws in Baltimore, drew from focus groups and household surveys in West and East Baltimore that experience high levels of gun violence, analyses of law enforcement data in Baltimore, law enforcement practices in other cities, a 2018 review of proactive policing by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, and a survey of practices from other law enforcement agencies.

Read more about the report, a Q&A with the report’s authors, and listen to an episode of the podcast Public Health on Call.

Center Faculty Honored with the Excellence in U.S. Public Health Practice Award

May 2020

Rebecca Williams, research associate for the Center for Gun Policy and Research, has received the Excellence in U.S. Public Health Practice Award for her work on the Center’s first Summer Youth Institute in 2019. The Institute, Reducing Gun Violence in America: Evidence for Change, was originally developed to provide tools and opportunities to support the youth advocacy movement after the 2018 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

The award--given by the Office of Public Health Practice and Training at the Bloomberg School--recognizes faculty, staff, and students each year for outstanding public health practice contributions. These awards are given in recognition of a practice effort that has made or has great potential to make a sustained impact on a health-related outcome.

Williams collaborated directly with key stakeholders and advocacy organizations to disseminate information about the program, facilitated the application process, and helped develop the core curriculum for the Institute including organizing guest speakers. Because of Williams’ efforts, fifty-one high school students from twenty-one states and forty-nine cities across the country came together for a four-day workshop in Baltimore to learn about gun violence, policy, and how to effectively use data and advocate for change.

As a result of participating in the Summer Youth Institute, many of the participants have become even stronger youth leaders with many taking leadership roles within gun violence prevention programs, testifying in state legislatures and congressional hearings. By providing youth with the skills and tools necessary to understand key scientific data, focus on research, and appreciate gun violence as a public health issue, the next generation is invited to be a part of the policy reform process. “We built friendships, family-tight bonds, and movements because of the hard work that Rebecca put in to make the Summer Institute a success,” said one Summer Youth Institute alumni.

Williams and faculty in the Center are organizing the second Summer Youth Institute this year. Due to safety concerns with the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Institute will be held virtually. Williams continues her dedication to public health practice by not only increasing the number of students who can participate in the program, but transitioning the entire Institute online. This form of public health practice supports the formation of strong youth relationships transcending racial, economic, financial, and geographic divides.

The Center was also recognized for its work on the Summer Youth Institute and was awarded the 2020 Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Partnership Award for Excellence in U.S. Public Health Practice.

Brooke's Briefing on Addressing Gun Violence During a Pandemic

May 21, 2020 at 7pm EST

Daniel Webster will join Delegate Lierman and a group of experts for a discussion on violence intervention and prevention programs, and why we need to invest in them more heavily to decrease gun violence in Baltimore - especially during a pandemic. This panel will discuss the work that violence intervention and prevention programs are doing during the pandemic, the impact of these programs on crime in Baltimore, the national conversation around funding for these programs and promising results from a variety of states, and the broader research and outcomes associated with violence intervention and prevention work.

Other participants include Karen Herren, Legislative Director for Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence; Mike McLively, Senior Staff Attorney Director of the Community Violence Initiative at Giffords Law Center; Greg Jackson, National Advocacy Director for the Community Justice Action Fund; and James Timpson (JT), Director of Youth Works and Crisis Intervention for ROCA Baltimore.

Register here

Sandy Hook Promise Webinar Series

Gun Violence Prevention During COVID-19: Know the Signs While Physically Distancing
May 13, 2020

As schools around the country announce long-term closures, children are spending more time at home, many of them with unsecured guns. A conversation featuring center deputy director Cassandra Crifasi and Liz Murphy, National Policy Director for Sandy Hook Promise, focused on providing background on the issue of safe firearm storage within the context of COVID-19 and provide resources for gun owners and non-gun owners alike. 

Watch the webinar.

Delaware Gun Violence Forum

January 9, 2020
Wilmington, DE

Daniel Webster will join a group of experts to discuss Delaware-specific firearm data and ground-level experiences from prosecutors  and defense attorneys, state and local law enforcement, firearms experts, gun shop owners, physicians and others. Webster will present information on training and licensing requirements in other states and the effects of those policies on gun violence.  

Gun Violence Prevention Forum

December 12, 2019
New York City

Daniel Webster will join a group of local and national health care leaders, hospital administrators, clinicians, and researchers to continue efforts combating gun violence. He will be talking about gun violence as a public health crisis with Dr. Susan Bornstein, Regent of the American College of Physicians. For more information on the forum, please visit the event page.

Better Gun Violence Reporting Summit

November 8, 2019
Philadelphia, PA

Both Drs. Daniel Webster and Shannon Frattaroli will be giving a talk at the Better Gun Violence Reporting Summit on gun licensing, ERPO laws and what are the best practices for covering these policies and gun violence in the media. Learn more about the event here

Building Momentum: The Bloomberg American Health Summit

November 12-13, 2019
Baltimore, MD

The 2nd annual Bloomberg American Health Summit — to be held November 12-13 in Baltimore, Maryland — will bring together advocates, experts, and policymakers from across the country to address challenges to health in five focus areas: Addiction & Overdose, Adolescent Health, Environmental Challenges, Obesity and the Food System, and Violence. 

Fellows and collaborators will spend two days sharing new knowledge and evidence-based practices, and forging connections that will inspire progress and build momentum for change at the local, state, and national level.

Read more about the event, link to the livestream and confirmed speakers here

Ceasefire Oregon Education Foundation, 25th Anniversary

November 21, 2019
Portland, OR

Center Director, Daniel Webster, ScD, will be speaking at the Ceasefire Oregon Education Foundation on Thursday, November 21, 2019. The Ceasefire Oregon Education Foundation has worked to reduce the number of gun injuries and deaths in Oregon by educating the public about safe firearm storage, suicide prevention, and through our gun turn-in programs.

Read more about the event here.

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine's Committee on Law and Justice

November 21, 2019
Washington, D.C.

Center Deputy Director, Cassandra Crifasi, PhD, MPH, will be participating in a panel discussion in Washington, D.C. that focuses on the comparative understandings of mass shootings and criminal gun violence.