This morning, the U.S. Senate passed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act—the first gun safety legislation to move forward at the federal level in decades. Later today, the bill is expected to be passed by the House of Representatives and signed by the president. Among other provisions, the law encourages states to adopt extreme risk protection orders, which have been championed by our faculty and the Center for Gun Violence Solutions. The bipartisan support for this legislation is an important reminder that change is possible.
However, this week brought very troubling news on gun safety as well.
Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a law that regulated the concealed carry of handguns in the state of New York. I urge you to read this press statement from the Center and listen to this episode of Public Health On Call, both of which describe the consequences of the ruling in greater detail. As our experts explain, research has shown that increased carrying of guns in public is associated with increased gun violence. Moreover, the ruling may portend challenges to other evidence-based approaches to reducing gun violence.
These developments come while our nation is still grappling with grief and anger over devastating mass shootings in Uvalde, Buffalo, Tulsa, Philadelphia, and elsewhere. And we know the issue goes far beyond those headlines. Every day 124 people die from gun violence in the United States, and firearms are now the leading cause of death for our country’s children and adolescents.
I am grateful to our colleagues at the Center, whose tireless work to prevent gun deaths and injuries will be even more urgent in the wake of this decision by the Court. They remain deeply committed to understanding and advancing evidence-based solutions, such as the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. I encourage you to follow their work, support their efforts, and add your voice to this discussion. Gun violence remains a public health crisis of monumental proportions that we must address to secure the future of our country.
Ellen J. MacKenzie, PhD ’79, ScM ’75
Bloomberg Distinguished Professor