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Bloomberg Public Health Professor Talks to Oasis Students about Gun Violence

Shannon Frattaroli Shannon Frattaroli ran through the statistics of gun violence.

About 90 percent of homicides are committed with handguns. There were more than 13,000 gun homicides in the United State in 2015, and an additional 22,000 suicides by gun. The United States has far higher gun suicide rates and gun homicide rates compared with other countries. Gun homicide is the leading cause of death of African-American men ages 15-24.

What can be done?

That was the topic of conversation at Frattaroli’s recent lecture to Oasis students. Frattaroli is an associate professor of health policy and management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, where she is on the faculty at the Center for Gun Policy and Research.  Her research focus is on the effectiveness of firearm injury prevention policies.

Oasis, affiliated with Suburban Hospital, is a non-profit educational organization that offers lifelong learning, active lifestyle opportunities and volunteer engagement programs to adults 50 and older. Classes occasionally meet at the Johns Hopkins University Montgomery County Campus.

Frattaroli discussed the findings of a report released in 2013 by the Consortium for Risk-Based Firearm Policy (the consortium included Bloomberg faculty).

Frattaroli, in detailing the recommendations, said simply restricting access to firearms to people with mental health issues would have minimal overall impact on gun violence. Instead, she explained that past behavior is often a good predictor of future violence. Policies should focus, she said, on “dangerousness, rather than diagnosis” to effectively reduce gun violence.

Among the recommendations:

  • People convicted of a violent misdemeanor should be prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms for at least 10 years
  • Individuals subject to temporary domestic violence retraining orders should be prohibited for the duration of the order from purchasing or possessing firearms [This is already law in Maryland.]
  • People convicted of two or more driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence violations within five years should be prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms for five years
  • Law enforcement should be authorized to remove guns from anyone who poses an immediate threat of harm to self or others

Frattaroli discussed the challenges of implementing the recommendations, including resistance from the National Rifle Association and some lawmakers. Nevertheless, she said she is optimistic there are opportunities to better enforce existing laws and to make guns safer.

“I think we can do it,” she said.


OASIS is a non-profit educational organization active in more than 50 cities and reaching more than 50,000 individuals each year. Its mission is to promote healthy aging through lifelong learning, active lifestyles and volunteer engagement. Locally, the Oasis center is located inside of Macy’s Home Store at Westfield Montgomery Mall and is sponsored by Suburban Hospital. Classes are held at the main center as well as in other locations throughout the county, including at the JHU Montgomery County Campus. Students may sign up for one or more classes, most of which are one-time lectures.  Class topics include offerings in art, music, computers, health and wellness, history and current events.

CATEGORY: Academics, Research