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A Year of Achievements and Our Vision for a Safer 2024


As we step into a new year at the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions, it's crucial to reflect on the milestones achieved in 2023 and the work that lies ahead. Through groundbreaking research, impactful advocacy, and new collaborations, our Center has been at the forefront of addressing gun violence with data-backed solutions. Let's take a moment to celebrate our successes from the past year and outline key goals for a safer 2024. 

A Year of Success and Setbacks 

The Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions had a highly successful year in 2023, making significant strides in research and advocacy. As the Center continues to grow and innovate, its commitment to creating safer communities remains unwavering. 

1. Launch of the ERPO Resource Center 

The Center received a significant grant from the Department of Justice to establish the Johns Hopkins ERPO Resource Center. This program will provide training and technical assistance for the implementation of extreme risk protection order (ERPO) laws. In conjunction with Everytown for Gun Safety, the Center also released a comprehensive guide titled "Promising Approaches for Implementing Extreme Risk Laws: A Guide for Practitioners and Policymakers."  

In 2023 we saw the dangers of weak firearm removal laws play out with tragedies like the mass shooting event in Lewiston, Maine. Our co-directors, Josh Horwitz and Cass Crifasi, advocated for strengthening Maine’s firearm laws including ERPO, underscoring the urgent need for comprehensive measures to stop these preventable devastating events in the future. 

2. Impact of Bruen 

For the first time, we saw the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision in NYSRPA v. Bruen. The so-called Bruen test has forced federal courts to compare current laws to historical allegories at the founding. Based on the decision in Bruen, we have seen challenges to existing concealed carry and firearm purchaser licensing laws. Another such case puts decades-long precedent in jeopardy. In United States v. Rahimi, the Supreme Court is considering a Second Amendment challenge to the federal law that creates a firearm prohibition for people subject to domestic violence protective orders.  Our legal team developed and drafted an amicus brief in the Rahimi case signed by 111 public health researchers and attorneys. This brief, including contributions from 22 Johns Hopkins researchers, argues that domestic abusers should not have access to firearms. We expect a decision in the case in late spring, and we are cautiously optimistic that the Court will uphold the current law.  

3. Publication of Insightful Reports 

The Center continued to emphasize the key role that research plays in advancing impactful solutions to gun violence. Our team published five impactful reports analyzing gun violence and proposing evidence-based solutions. Notable publications include Alcohol Misuse and Gun Violence: An Evidence-based Approach for State Policy, U.S. Gun Violence in 2021: An Accounting of a Public Health Crisis, which delves into an analysis of CDC 2021 firearm fatality data, and Defending Democracy a report focused on the relationship between stronger firearm policy and preventing political violence.  

Our work also showed that support for effective gun violence prevention solutions is strong nationally. Conducted semi-annually, the 2023 National Survey of Gun Policy revealed that a majority of Americans, regardless of political affiliation or gun ownership status, support proven and promising gun violence solutions. This includes measures like firearm purchaser licensing, ERPOs and safe and secure gun storage.  

4. Advocacy for Lifesaving Policies 

Our advocacy team worked tirelessly to support research-backed legislation in states across the country.  The Center played a pivotal role in supporting the passage of 17 lifesaving gun laws. Notably, this included the successful passage of ERPO laws in Minnesota and Michigan, states that had not enacted new gun violence prevention laws in years.   

5. Violence Reduction Councils 

The Center developed and trained Violence Reduction Councils across the country, empowering communities to engage diverse stakeholders in analyzing data and identifying the root causes of violence. These councils are proven to prevent violence, enact sustainable improvements to reduce violence in cities, and build trust among local governments, law enforcement, and community members.  


The Year Ahead 

The challenges posed by gun violence demand unwavering dedication, research-driven solutions, and strategic advocacy. In 2024, our focus remains steadfast on passing crucial legislation, with key goals centered around ERPO laws, firearm purchaser licensing, the regulation of public carry of firearms, and funding solutions to community violence intervention. 

As the Center grows, our capacity to effect positive change grows with it. We’re optimistic that change is possible in 2024.   

1. Advancing Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) Laws 

To date, 21 states plus the District of Columbia, have implemented ERPO laws. One of our primary goals for 2024 is to continue advocating for the implementation and enhancement of ERPO laws. These policies empower law enforcement and family members, and in some states licensed healthcare providers, to petition a court to temporarily restrict an individual's access to firearms when they pose a risk to themselves or others. The early data shows ERPOs can save lives 

Passing ERPO is step one. Proper and thorough implementation takes time. By providing training and technical assistance through the Johns Hopkins ERPO Resource Center, we aim to support states in adopting and effectively implementing these laws. Through collaboration with policymakers, practitioners, and advocacy groups, we will work to fully implement these laws, ensuring they serve as a powerful tool in preventing gun violence.   

2. Taking Steps to Defend Democracy  

The 2024 election will be a pivotal time for the future of our nation. In December 2023 our team released our Defending Democracy report. The report lays out concrete steps that our leaders can take to protect the country from future insurrections and political violence. Among them, better regulating the public carry of firearms at locations essential to political participation, prohibiting paramilitary activity, and giving local governments the ability to create policies to address risks of political violence in their jurisdictions.  

In 2021, we saw the threat of insurrection embodied in the actions of thousands who stormed our nation’s capitol and the state capitol building in Michigan the year prior. More than three years later, most states have not taken the necessary actions to prevent history from repeating itself. Lawmakers must act now to protect our democratic institutions.    

3. Address the Growing Issue of Suicide by Firearms  

While the rate of gun homicides fell slightly from 2021, our analysis of the latest CDC data showed the nation’s overall gun suicide rate reached an all-time high, increasing by 1.6% in 2022. For the first time, the gun suicide rate of Black teenagers surpassed the rate among white teens.  

Overall, gun death rates remained near highs we had not seen since the mid 1990s. Gun deaths have not returned to pre-pandemic levels. Since 2019, gun deaths are up 21%. Tragically, 48,117 people died by guns in 2022, that’s nearly the capacity of Oriole Park at Camden Yards. On average, one person every 11 minutes lost their life to gun violence. The majority of these deaths were by suicide. 

Perhaps, there’s reason for hope to start the new year, early indications show homicides in large cities fell in 2023. A report by the Council on Criminal Justice found 515 fewer homicides in 2023 from 2022 across 38 U.S. cities. Homicides are still strikingly high, showing we have more work to do.  

4. Promoting Firearm Purchaser Licensing 

Firearm purchaser licensing (also known as permit-to-purchase) is a proven strategy to enhance public safety by ensuring that individuals seeking to purchase firearms undergo a thorough background check and meet specified criteria. Our goal in 2024 is to advocate for the adoption and expansion of firearm purchaser licensing laws at both the state and federal levels. By leveraging the insights gained from our research and the support of the public, we aim to build momentum for comprehensive licensing measures that prioritize safety.   

5. Regulating Public Carry of Firearms 

The regulation of public carry is an essential component of a holistic approach to gun violence prevention. Our 2024 goals include advocating for regulations that enhance public safety. By engaging with policymakers, communities, and stakeholders, we aim to contribute to the development of evidence-based regulations on the public carry of firearms. This includes supporting measures such as mandatory training, permitting, and restrictions on carrying firearms in certain public spaces. 

6. Improving Safe and Secure Firearm Storage 

Proper firearm safety starts with safe and secure storage at home. To ensure firearms do not fall into the hands of children or those who pose a risk to themselves or others – we must continue to improve safe and secure storage measures including promoting child access prevention laws. Research consistently demonstrates a decreased risk of adolescent suicide in states with child access prevention laws.  

7. Community Engagement and Education 

Beyond legislative advocacy, community engagement and education are critical elements of our 2024 strategy. We will continue to work with communities across the country, fostering dialogue and understanding about the impact of gun violence. Through the development and training of Violence Reduction Councils, we aim to empower communities to actively participate in the identification of local drivers of violence and the implementation of tailored solutions. 



As we embark on the journey of 2024, the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions remains committed to making a meaningful impact in the fight against gun violence. By advocating for, among other things, the passage of ERPO laws, firearm purchaser licensing, and regulations on public carry, we strive to contribute to the creation of safer, more secure communities. Together with our partners, supporters, and communities across the country, we believe a safer future is possible. Let's work together to build that future.