Colleges and universities in Washington, DC, have announced that they will spend the next few months looking into ways to reduce gun violence.
Organized by the DC-based nonprofit Consortium of Universities, the initiative comes as mass shootings across the country increase, forcing campuses to deal with an increase in mental health problems.
Gregory Washington, president of George Mason University (GMU), said every university president is concerned about the possibility of the next mass shooting happening on their campus. “Historically, universities have been targets of violence,” he said.
— Dr. Gregory Washington (@GMUPres) July 13, 2022
According to Washington, this drove consortium members GMU and the University of Maryland to form the 120 Initiative, a coalition of schools in the Washington, DC, area. The initiative is named after the more than 120 individuals who die, on average, every day as a result of gun violence.
The 120 Initiative will work with subject-matter specialists on a variety of issues, such as polarization, business sector participation, citizen advocacy, public and mental health, education, and technology.
The objective is to release a set of evidence-based recommendations six months after reviewing the available data. These recommendations will give all sectors concrete, actionable steps they can take, both individually and collectively, to reduce gun violence.
American, Catholic, Gallaudet, Georgetown, George Washington, Howard, Marymount, and Trinity Washington universities, as well as Montgomery College, Northern Virginia Community College, Prince George’s Community College, University of the District of Columbia, and University of Maryland Global Campus, are some of the other partners in the Initiative.
Johns Hopkins University is an affiliate member, as well.
According to the consortium, there have been at least 314 mass shootings in the United States so far in 2022, and more than 23,500 people have died as a result of suicide, domestic violence, and other types of violence involving guns.
“The brainpower that exists at these institutions puts us in a unique position to bring some of the brightest minds in the country together to help make recommendations and solve this problem,” Washington stated.