BALTIMORE — Recent mass shootings in Buffalo, Uvalde and now Tulsa have everyone asking what can be done to stop the increased gun violence we see across the country.
On Thursday, leaders from Johns Hopkins University discussed possible solutions on what they are now calling a gun violence crisis in our country.
Many leaders at Johns Hopkins University talked about what they believe needs to change and it could begin with licensing procedures at a state level.
Less than three weeks ago, 10 people were killed and three people were injured at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York in a racist hate-crime attack.
And nine days ago, 19 children and two teachers were shot to death at a school in Uvalde Texas. In both cases, the gunmen were just 18-years-old.
“The ability for someone who's just turned 18-years-old to buy a semi-automatic assault weapon and 1600 rounds of ammunition is a threat to both our public safety, our children, and our democracy,” Josh Horwitz said.
Then, Wednesday afternoon in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a gunman killed four people before taking his own life inside a medical office building.
“These are recent horrific headlines. But it's also important to acknowledge that we are at all-time highs for gun homicides in the United States,” Lainie Rutkow said.
Five Johns Hopkins experts came together virtually Thursday to discuss solution-based ideas, starting with measures they think are most effective in promoting student safety in schools.
According to Odis Johnson, the Executive Director at Johns Hopkins Center for Safe and Healthy Schools, the answer is not always adding more officers.
“This has led to higher rates of school arrests for minor school disturbances, and made many of our young people feel like suspects instead of students,” Johnson said.
Johnson believes instead of addressing the problem of easy access to guns, lawmakers have increased the presence of police in schools.
“And our research shows that students who attend schools that rely on law enforcement and other means of surveillance have lower test scores, performances, and rates of college attendance,” Johnson said.
So if the answer is not more officers in schools, what do we need?
Johns Hopkins officials believe it starts with changing gun licensing procedures at the state level.
“What doesn't work, laws that allow individuals to buy firearms despite recent histories of violence, or who are too young to be able to legally drink an alcoholic beverage,” Daniel Webster said.
Raising the age limit to 21 for people to purchase guns is one option.
Johns Hopkins officials, including Shannon Frattaroli, who’s a core faculty member for Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions, said she also believes expanding the extreme risk protection orders could be another, which already exists in 19 states, including Maryland.
“So extreme risk protection orders are a civil court order. That allows the court to temporarily prohibit people who are behaving dangerously and at risk of violence from purchasing and possessing guns,” Frattaroli said.
They also believe it’s going to take dismantling gun law procedures at a federal level to create deep change regarding the gun crisis in our nation.
“Many states that now have background check requirements for private transfers, we're going to start to see state states one up that one more to also include a licensing system,” Daniel Webster said.
Cassandra Crifasi, Director of Research Policy at Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solution, also shared her opinion.
“I think there's a real desire to make sure that we're only selling firearms to people who successfully complete a background check,” Crifasi said.
This issue is extremely complex and this is just a start to the conversation about combating the gun crisis in our country especially as it relates to gun violence in schools.
Johns Hopkins leaders collectively agreed that if you want to start to see a change make sure to address your local leaders with your concerns.