Once again, our country is furious and grieving. A gunman took semi-automatic weapons into an elementary school and murdered 19 children and two teachers. Their families and the Uvalde, Texas, community are completely devastated.
What are we doing? Yesterday, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, who represents the district that includes Sandy Hook, asked this question repeatedly in a passionate speech to his colleagues in Congress. He begged them to do more. I share his indignation, his disgust, and his frustration—and I also share his belief that this type of violence is not inevitable.
We cannot normalize school shootings, and it is wrong to say that nothing will change. We know that there are policies that can prevent gun violence—if they're implemented. In recent years, a number of states have enacted effective solutions—from extreme risk protection orders to safe gun storage laws—and saved lives by doing so.
We must continue to listen to experts and demand greater change. Our faculty and staff at the Center for Gun Violence Solutions are working to address weak gun laws and problems with enforcement, and they have identified a range of effective programs and policies. In response to this latest tragedy, they offered ideas and perspectives on approaches such as purchaser licensing, bans of large capacity magazines, restricting firearms to persons 21 years of age or older, and more.
I also urge you to listen to today’s episode of the Public Health on Call podcast. Cass Crifasi, director of research and policy at the Center, discusses what could have prevented this senseless tragedy and what must be done to prevent further loss of life.
Please remember that the university has mental health resources available, including mySupport for faculty and staff and JHSAP for students.
I know many of us are deeply shaken today as we struggle to process our sorrow and rage. I still strongly believe that the public health community can make a difference, and I am grateful to our many colleagues who are working for change.
Ellen J. MacKenzie, PhD ’79, ScM ’75
Bloomberg Distinguished Professor