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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Wisconsin

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Leading Experts to Discuss New Approaches to Keeping Guns from Those People at Elevated Risk of Violence

United States Attorney James L. Santelle announced today that on Friday, November 7th, the Office of the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin will co-host with Josh Horwitz, Executive Director of the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, and Jeri Bonavia, Executive Director of WAVE Educational Fund, a program entitled “From Virginia Tech to the Azana Spa: New Approaches to Keeping Guns from Dangerous People.”

This community education program will begin at 1:00 p.m. at the Joseph Zilber School of Public Health of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee located at 1240 N. 10th Street and will include reporting on evidence-based proposals for identifying and stopping the destructive, firearms-related behaviors of the most dangerous people in our communities.  The program will feature a panel of national mental health, public health and gun violence prevention experts from the Consortium for Risk-Based Firearm Policy, together with local leaders to discuss new approaches to keeping guns out of the hands of potentially dangerous individuals. The approaches are detailed in a report the Consortium released late last year.

Among the panelists will be Josh Horwitz, Executive Director of the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, Dr. Garen Wintemute, Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of California at Davis, Dr. Shannon Frattorili, Associate Professor of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Dr. Jeffrey Swanson, Professor in Psychiatry at Duke University, and Dr. Amy Barnhorst, Assistant Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of California. United States Attorney James L. Santelle, Milwaukee’s Assistant Police Chief, James Harpole,  Nina Vinik, Joyce Foundation Program Director, Gun Violence Prevention Program, Sandy Pasch, Wisconsin State Assembly State Representative, 10th District, Rev. Jerry Hancock, First Congregational Church of Christ, Madison, and Ralph Hollmon, Milwaukee Urban League President and CEO, will be among the presenters.

Friday’s panel is an evidence-based component of a nationwide and local strategic effort by the U.S. Department of Justice and other state, local, and tribal law enforcement entities to combat gun violence and its impact on our communities by highlighting the value of practical, new tools and research-based methods available to government officials, investigators and prosecutors, health care providers, educators, business representatives, legislators, and community leaders.  Among other aspects of the concepts to be described and discussed, these policies would prevent individuals from acquiring and possessing guns when they are at elevated risk of harming themselves and others.

In announcing the program, United States Attorney Santelle said:  “In this thoughtful, practical discussion with researchers and educators who have devoted their academic careers to identifying the true geneses of firearm-related violence in our nation, we will be drafting a new design – an innovative blueprint – for keeping our residents safer and more secure here in Eastern Wisconsin and elsewhere.   We know the sources of and reasons for violence, and our community gathering will focus on using that information and knowledge to save lives, prevent injury, diminish crime, and promote the well-being of our communities.”

“This country needs an evidenced-based, rational approach to curbing gun violence,” said Josh Horwitz, Executive Director of the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence. “While it is common to suggest that guns should be kept out of the hands of the ‘mentally ill,’ that category is too vague to be effective and can wrongly stigmatize a group of individuals who are in fact no more likely to be violent than the rest of us. The Consortium’s recommendations will save lives because they are tailored to remove firearms from those most at risk for future violence.”

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.

“The evidence is strong: The recommended policy reforms can prevent gun violence here in Wisconsin,” said Jeri Bonavia, Executive Director of WAVE Educational Fund. “But the only way we will actually save lives is if we move these recommendations from paper to practice – a goal we believe every elected official in our state should embrace.”

Friday’s panel is open to media, and coverage is welcome. Interview opportunities with panelists and hosts are available ahead of time, as well as on the day of the event.
Updated January 29, 2015