As 2022 comes to a close, I am reflecting upon the ongoing tragedy of deaths by guns in our nation and what we can do to address this crisis. On December 12, we remembered 20 first graders and six educators killed ten years ago at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. In May this year, 19 children and two teachers were murdered at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. In November, three University of Virginia athletes lost their lives because of gun violence. And each day we learn of additional, senseless tragedies.
This is why the Presidents of the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area supported a proposal from President Gregory Washington of George Mason University and President Darryll Pines of the University of Maryland College Park to launch the 120 Initiative, which is named in honor of the more than 120 people who die on average each day from gun homicide or suicide.
Since its launch, the Consortium has engaged more than 100 subject-matter experts across our 20 member institutions. The group gathers online and in person to present and discuss gun violence data and research on leading-edge methods to stem it, including community interventions, changes in law and policing public health campaigns, and innovative economic approaches. In 2023, the Consortium will share evidence-based recommendations for practical, tangible steps that should be taken to drive down gun violence. We will publish these recommendations online and host a regional conference to provide a platform for our experts to discuss the proposals in detail through panels, presentations, and question-and-answer sessions.
Consortium members have also launched programs at their institutions related to this crisis. These include the University of the District of Columbia’s Violence Prevention & Community Wellness Initiative, a Gun Violence Prevention Certification Program, and the University of Maryland’s Center for the Study and Practice of Violence Reduction.
I am deeply grateful to the faculty and staff of so many of our colleges and universities for finding the time to work together across academic disciplines to identify these desperately needed proposals, and to our presidents for their unwavering leadership on this issue. The Consortium thanks all involved in tackling gun violence. As noted when the 120 Initiative was launched, time is of the essence.
Andrew Flagel, PhD
President and CEO
Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area