Michael R. Bloomberg speaking at the Life Summit.

Life Summit

23 gun policy experts

By Maryalice Yakutchik • Photos by Will Kirk

Less than a month after the idea surfaced, the two-day Summit on Reducing Gun Violence in America: Informing Policy with Evidence and Analysis convened in mid-January and yielded not only policy recommendations but also a published book.

 More than 450 people attended and thousands more watched on the Web and C-SPAN as U.S. and international gun policy experts presented research and personal experiences about gun violence and its prevention. New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels opened the Summit.

Since its close, Summit organizers Daniel Webster and Jon Vernick, along with Stephen Teret, of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research have handled numerous media interviews and requests from policymakers interested in improving gun laws. “I’ve been working on this issue for 22 years and I’ve never seen the ground shift so quickly, creating an opportunity to make change,” says Webster, noting the December 14 Sandy Hook school tragedy changed the public’s attitudes toward gun violence as well as the political dynamics.

The breadth of papers and topics presented at the Summit addressed key policies as well as new ideas that merit federal and state policymakers’ attention, says Webster. The experts’ research was almost instantaneously published in a 320-page book/e-book by Johns Hopkins Press (see below) that was delivered to every member of Congress.

As they propose policies to stem gun violence, policymakers want solid evidence, expertise and experience behind them, Webster says, adding that nothing says credibility more than a group of world experts.

As the Summit’s aftermath continued swirling around him, Webster stole a moment for reflection: “This is why people gravitate to public health. There’s an aspect of intellectual curiosity. But a far bigger driver is, you want to make an impact.”