The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has appointed Josh Horwitz, JD, as the inaugural Dana Feitler Professor of the Practice in Gun Violence Prevention and Advocacy in the Department of Health Policy and Management.
In this role, Horwitz, a leading gun violence prevention advocate and expert, will teach a health advocacy course which prepares health professionals to advance policy improvements. Horwitz also serves as co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions at the Bloomberg School. The Center was formed earlier this year when the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, an advocacy nonprofit Horwitz led for 30 years, merged with the Bloomberg School’s Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Prevention and Policy.
The Bloomberg School-based Center for Gun Violence Solutions brings a public health lens to reduce gun violence in the U.S., focusing on research while expanding evidence-based advocacy for effective and equitable policies.
The Dana Feitler Professor of the Practice in Gun Violence Prevention and Advocacy was endowed by Pamela and Chris Hoehn-Saric, longtime supporters of gun violence prevention efforts. The professorship was named after Pamela Hoehn-Saric’s sister who was killed in an armed robbery in 1989. The professorship provides a permanent, full-time focus on the intersection of gun violence prevention and evidence-based advocacy.
Gun violence in the U.S. reached record levels during the pandemic in 2020, with more than 45,000 lives lost to firearm incidents, including more than half involving suicide. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gun homicide disproportionately impacts people of color, especially Black males ages 15–34, who are shot at a rate 12 times higher than white males in the same age group. Despite broad public support for gun violence prevention policies and programs, gun violence remains a complex societal and politically charged problem.
"Josh is a dedicated teacher and tireless advocate for gun violence solutions—we are proud to name him the inaugural Dana Feitler Professor," says Dean Ellen J. MacKenzie, PhD, ScM. "The issue of gun violence is more urgent than ever, and we are fortunate to have leaders like Josh on our faculty. In this new position, he will use his expertise in policy and advocacy to continue to fight for meaningful action and change."
As part of the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, Horwitz helped develop and advance Extreme Risk Protection Order laws that allow the court to temporarily remove firearms when there are warning signs of someone being at risk of harming themselves or others. To date, ERPO laws have been adopted in 19 states and Washington, D.C. Research shows they are effective in reducing both suicides and mass shootings.
Horwitz also led the development of a bill in California that required all semi-automatic firearms made or sold in California to be microstamped, a technology that makes it easier for law enforcement to match cartridge casings to a firearm and its purchaser. Microstamping has the potential to help solve gun-related crimes and identify gun traffickers and dealers that supply guns used in crimes. California enacted the law in 2007. Microstamping laws have also been recently passed in New Jersey and New York.
Following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, Horwitz co-founded the Consortium for Risk-Based Firearm Policy, a group of experts including researchers and practitioners, to advance evidence-based gun violence prevention policies. He has served as the Consortium’s director since its inception. The Consortium continues to provide recommendations that inform legislation, executive action, and policy implementation.
“I am excited to join the Bloomberg School’s faculty in conjunction with my role as co-director of the Center for Gun Violence Solutions,” says Horwitz. “I look forward to teaching tomorrow’s public health leaders who share a deep concern for understanding and preventing gun violence. The Center’s mix of advocacy and research will continue to advance evidence-based policies that seek to reduce gun-related deaths and injuries.”
Horwitz serves as co-director of the Center for Gun Violence Solutions along with Daniel Webster, ScD, MPH, Bloomberg Professor of American Health in Violence Prevention. Horwitz also serves as a core faculty at the Lerner Center for Public Health Advocacy in the Department of Health Policy and Management. His appointment is effective back to March 15, 2022.
He co-authored the 2009 book Guns, Democracy and the Insurrections Idea, which identified the anti-democratic potential of easy access to guns combined with an emerging tolerance for political violence on the political right.
Horwitz received his Juris Doctor degree from the George Washington University Law School and his BA in history from the University of Michigan. He was a visiting scholar at the Bloomberg School for five years, from 2006 to 2011, and an associate for 11 years, from 2011 to 2022.
“Josh brings impressive experience advocating for effective and lifesaving policies that prevent gun violence to this new role,” says Keshia Pollack Porter, PhD, MPH, Bloomberg Centennial Professor and chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Bloomberg School. “I am thrilled he has joined the Department to advance policy impact and help educate, advise, and mentor the next generation of leaders in health advocacy.”
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