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Maryland Attorney General to Host Feb. 4 Forum at UMB on Gun Violence

Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler will host a forum on gun violence, A Conversation Among Law Enforcement and Community Leaders to Consider Practical Solutions, on Monday, Feb. 4, at the University of Maryland (UM) Francis King Carey School of Law.

The forum will be held at Westminster Hall at the intersection of West Fayette and Greene streets on the Baltimore campus of the University of Maryland from 9 a.m. to noon.

"We're delighted that the law school can provide a venue for such an important discussion," said UM Carey Law Dean Phoebe A. Haddon, JD, LLM. "Gun violence and safety touch all our lives."

Gansler and Haddon will convene two panel discussions by state and local community leaders from several counties, law enforcement, prosecutors, legal scholars, and experts. Attendees will be encouraged to participate in the conversation during the panel discussions as they explore the risks to families and neighborhoods if we do not take action and utilize common sense solutions that will work.

Panelist Richard Boldt, JD, professor at the UM Carey School of Law, says, "This is a good development prompted by a truly tragic event. The Connecticut school shooting and other similar events have stimulated renewed discussions about the need for better treatment resources, especially community-based resources, for people with mental disabilities."

The forum on Feb. 4 will be an extension of a recent discussion by Gansler, currently serving as president of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), and other attorneys general from across the nation. They joined in a discussion of gun violence with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and White House officials seeking to identify and define the many legal, law enforcement, and systematic changes that will save lives and prevent injury to Marylanders.

Gansler says, "This event is intended to further that conversation as we continue to work with Governor O'Malley, members of the General Assembly, my colleagues in law enforcement, community leaders, and the people of Maryland to ensure that in 2013 our state makes progress on gun violence."

"Maryland's Gun Violence Challenges" will be the first panel discussion. Among the eight speakers will be Tony Batts, Baltimore City police commissioner; Scott Shellenberger, Baltimore County state's attorney; Joe Vince, MA, director of the criminal justice program at Mount St. Mary's University in Emmitsburg; and community activist Rev. Lena Dennis of Eastern United Methodist Church.

A second discussion,"Reducing Gun Violence - What is Possible?"will have seven speakers, including Boldt; Vinnie Demarco of Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence; Lt. Tim Frye, commander of gun enforcement for the Maryland State Police; Thomas Manger, Montgomery County police chief; and Thiru Vignarajah, JD, MA, Baltimore City state's attorney and adjunct professor at the UM Carey School.

Law Professor Boldt has a special research interest in drug policy and the legal issues surrounding drug use and drug use disorders. He has written extensively on drug treatment courts and the problem-solving courts movement.

"The connection between mental illness and violence is complex, however," says Boldt. "Most people with mental illness, even severe mental disease, are not more violent than other folks. The extremely serious problem of gun violence in our communities, especially the day-to-day incidents that do not get as much publicity as the mass shootings at Virginia Tech or Connecticut, should prompt a policy discussion that focuses primarily on better gun regulation and the careful enforcement of existing provisions relating to the sale and possession of guns. I welcome the renewed interest in this topic, although at the same time I think we should be cautious about how concerns over mental illness impact the broader consideration of these issues."
Posting Date: 02/01/2013
Contact Name: Jeff Raymond
Contact Phone: 410-706-3803
Contact Email: jraymond@umaryland.edu