Daniel Webster, ScD, MPH, and Director of Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, says that while the murder rate in the United States has declined sharply since he began his teaching and research in gun violence prevention policy twenty years ago, there is still much work to be done. The U.S. has the highest rate of homicides by gun among higher-income countries—almost twenty times the average. But we can do far better by improving gun violence prevention policy.
“First and foremost, we need to make it more difficult for people who are at high-risk of committing gun violence from accessing guns. This is a two-prong strategy: First, we must close the existing gaps in our laws and law enforcement practices which allow dangerous people from possessing guns,” Webster says.
We must also implement stricter standards for legal gun ownership than federal law currently mandates, including universal background checks and firearm prohibitions for people subject to temporary domestic violence restraining orders or who have been convicted of a violent misdemeanor crime.
“A public opinion poll [Webster] conducted in 2013 found support for background checks for virtually all firearms sales is very wide – 90% overall and 82% among gun owners. [Webster] found strong support to toughen prohibitions, too: 81% overall and 76% of gun owners support prohibiting a person convicted of violating a domestic-violence restraining order from having a gun for ten years, and 83% of people overall and 80% of gun owners favor prohibiting a person convicted of a serious crime as a juvenile from having a gun for ten years.”