COLLEGE PARK, Md. - This week, President Darryll J. Pines of the University of Maryland and fellow presidents from Washington, D.C.-area universities and colleges announced they will gather experts from their institutions to advance promising, actionable solutions to reduce gun violence in the United States. The effort, entitled The 120 Initiative, named in honor of the more than 120 people who die on average each day from gun violence, will be coordinated by the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area.
In launching this effort, President Pines stated, “Today, 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. And because universities are often the source of change and progress.”
America is experiencing an epidemic of gun violence, most recently witnessed in Buffalo, New York; Highland Park, Illinois; and Uvalde, Texas. According to the Gun Violence Archive, the United States has had at least 314 mass shootings since the start of 2022, and gun violence through suicide, domestic abuse, and other assaults has resulted in more than 23,500 deaths so far this year.
“We are encouraged by political leaders at all levels and in all parties continuing to collaborate to make meaningful progress on reducing gun violence in America,” said Dr. Gregory Washington, President of George Mason University. “At the same time, President Pines and I proposed this initiative because we know that there are a host of non-political solutions that are desperately needed if we hope to change the tragic and escalating epidemic of gun violence.”
Consortium members are dedicated to leading on developing nimble, substantive, and actionable solutions to this complex issue. The 120 Initiative will engage subject-matter experts in a wide range of areas, such as gun violence, public and mental health, polarization, business sector engagement, citizen advocacy, education, and technology. After analysis of available research, in approximately six months The 120 Initiative will share a series of evidence-based recommendations that provide all sectors with practical, tangible steps they can take, individually and collectively, to drive down gun violence. Time is of the essence.
“Our region arguably has the widest variety of public, private, and government expertise and Consortium universities and colleges are established leaders at the intersection of research, practice, and policy, especially on national issues,” said Dr. Andrew Flagel, President and CEO of the Consortium. “The 120 Initiative will collectively leverage our expertise to spur substantive progress on behalf of the nation and the more than 400,000 students in Consortium institutions.”
*Consortium institutions participating in The 120 Initiative: