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Op/ed: Universities to Lead Drive for Innovative Solutions to Gun Violence

UMD, George Mason Presidents Announce Research Initiative to Stem Rising Toll of Shootings

By Darryll J. Pines and Gregory Washington

Visitors walk past a makeshift memorial honoring those recently killed at Robb Elementary School, Tuesday, July 12, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas.

Visitors on July 12 walk past a makeshift memorial honoring the 21 victims of a mass shooting in May at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. The University of Maryland is helping to lead a consortium of colleges and universities in a new initiative to use research to fight gun violence.

AP Photo/Eric Gay

The 23,000 Americans killed by guns so far in 2022 include victims of active shooter incidents in schools and shopping malls, as well as a far greater number lost to the routine slaughter that plays out daily on street corners and in homes across our country.

While universities aren’t enforcement agencies that can directly intervene, they can offer deep expertise and creative thinking to begin changing the behavior and conditions that lead to such tragedies, University of Maryland President Darryll J. Pines and George Mason University President Gregory Washington wrote in a new opinion piece in The Baltimore Sun.

The two educators announced the 120 Initiative, a consortium of 17 area colleges and universities named in honor of the number of Americans killed by guns each day, to provide nonpartisan analysis and data to help stop the violence:

Today, in the wake of another horrifying spate of gun violence across our country, we add university presidents to the call for change.

Why? Because guns are now the leading cause of death for young people, and we are charged with shaping young minds to tackle the grand challenges of our time. Because we lead communities that are deeply affected by the mass slaughter of citizens, and some weeks it feels like the flags at our public institutions fly ceaselessly at half-staff. Because universities are often the source of change and progress. And because we believe in science and data, and when we look at the facts, gun violence is a public health crisis — full stop.

Read the rest of the essay in The Baltimore Sun.

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