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Details of the final Gun Violence Prevention Task Force

| June 12, 2020, 04:20 PM

The Anne Arundel County Gun Violence Prevention Task Force (GVPTF) presented its final report last Friday, ending a year-long inquiry into gun violence through the lens of public health, and recommending a broad portfolio of 55 initiatives and resources to reduce firearm-related deaths and injuries.

Chief among the task force findings — which defined gun violence in the county as an urgent public health issue — was the change in the number of deaths due to firearms over time.  The proportion of deaths due to homicide rather than suicide has been steadily increasing and in 2018, the proportion of homicides and suicide deaths were nearly equivalent. During 2014-2018, there were a total of 223 deaths from firearms, with suicides accounting for the highest proportion of deaths during this time period at an average of 63%.

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“This report is not destined for the shelf to be dusted off after the next mass shooting,” said County Executive Pittman. “It goes straight to the Department of Health where a new position will be funded, beginning July 1, to establish the interagency Gun Violence Intervention Team that will not only implement these recommendations, but also monitor our progress. Gun violence in Anne Arundel County must decline.”

The report includes a broad inventory of current programs and organizational resources that support county efforts to mitigate gun violence and lays a firm foundation from which to implement many of its recommendations.

“I am pleased that the recommendations are focused on evidence-based approaches and public health solutions,” said Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman, County Health Officer.  “Gun violence is never the result of a single isolated event. It’s the accumulation of factors that can occur at birth and continue throughout a lifetime.”

The task force organized the report using the Social Ecological Model which looks at the impact of different factors from the societal level down to the individual level.

“The work of this task force was time consuming, hard, and for me, always personal,” said Bishop Charles Carroll, GVPTF Chairman, who lost his first-born son to gun violence in 2016. “I have been sustained by the hope that the task force ultimately might prevent pain for another family and help my own healing along.”  Although four years have elapsed since his son’s death, Annapolis police have not made an arrest in the case.

Over the last several decades, a growing number of public health organizations, academic researchers, and medical groups such as the American Public Health Association, National Medical Association, the American Medical Association, the American College of Physicians and the American Academy of Pediatrics have determined that gun violence is a major threat to public health.

The task force was created by Anne Arundel County Executive Pittman by executive order on April 5, 2019 to research the issue of gun violence prevention in the county and recommend actionable proposals.

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