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Addressing the gun violence public health crisis

On April 5, Loyola Stands Against Gun Violence presented the fourth annual Community Advocacy & Violence Prevention Summit. The Parkinson School of Health Sciences and Public Health was the driving force behind this year’s event, along with four other summit sponsors.

Kris Brown, president of  Brady: United Against Gun Violence, served as the keynote speaker. She offered three potential solutions to the gun violence public health crisis that is the leading cause of death for U.S. children:

  • Advocating for stricter gun control legislation at the federal and state level
  • Holding the gun industry accountable
  • Changing culture with the help of a public health campaign similar to those addressing drunk driving and tobacco use in the past

“This year’s summit strived to increase awareness that each person can enact change toward safer communities,” said Lucia Garcia, MEd, MPH, a founding member of Loyola Stands and Parkinson’s director of student affairs and registrar. “As a University rooted in social justice, it is our responsibility to advocate for gun violence prevention and gun safety, and to take a stand against policy and legislation that leads to unsafe communities.”

Empowering gun violence prevention advocates

The summit, which took place during National Public Health Week, brought together an interdisciplinary group of gun violence prevention advocates from the local community and throughout Loyola University Chicago and Loyola University Medical Center. There were 180 participants at this year’s event, held on the Health Sciences Campus and virtually.

A panel featuring local advocates against gun violence included Halleh Akbarnia, MD, Advocate Health Care; Alicia Schemel, Everytown Survivor Network & Moms Demand Action; Tom Vanden Berk, founder of G-PAC; Kitty Brandtner, co-founder of March Fourth; and Brian Dye and Jarvis Buchanan, Legacy Disciples/Hood Heroes.

A second panel featured members of the Loyola University Chicago and Loyola University Medical Center community and addressed violence prevention, advocacy, education, and strategy in the classroom, community, and clinical settings. Maywood Mayor Nathaniel Booker provided an update on gun violence prevention programs in the village and throughout Illinois, and Georgia Congresswoman Lucy McBath, who lost her son to gun violence in 2012, delivered a pre-recorded message about the importance of advocacy at all levels.

Following the speakers, the summit closed with a gun safety and violence prevention advocacy workshop facilitated by Brown and Delphine Cherry, leader of the Chicago Brady Campaign Chapter. Participants were encouraged to contact their legislators and help end the gun violence epidemic by visiting the Trinity Health Action Center.

About the summit

Loyola Stands Against Gun Violence’s Community Advocacy and Violence Prevention Summit is a gathering of the Loyola, Proviso, and Chicagoland communities to discuss advocacy and strategies to address violence in our communities. The event was sponsored by the Parkinson School of Health Sciences and Public Health, Health Sciences Campus Ministry, Loyola University Medical Center, and the Institute for Translational Medicine.

About Loyola Stands Against Gun Violence

Loyola Stands Against Gun Violence is a multi-departmental, multi-disciplinary committee that holds representation from Loyola Medicine, Loyola University Chicago’s three campuses, and local Proviso community leaders. Loyola Stands aims to increase awareness, education, advocacy and action around gun violence prevention, and to serve as a resource to the community.