Avoiding Violent Rebellion: Johns Hopkins Study Highlights Public Health, Safety, and Democracy Threats from Firearms in Political Environments

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TL/DR –

A new report from the Center for Gun Violence Solutions at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health explores the increased risk of armed insurrection to public health and democracy. The report argues that armed insurrections can be preempted with appropriate policies at various levels of government that protect the nation’s democratic processes. It recommends several strategies to prevent armed insurrection, like regulating the open and concealed carry of firearms in public, enforcing laws against paramilitary activity, prohibiting civilian possession of firearms at key political locations, implementing Extreme Risk Protection Order laws, creating exceptions for firearm preemption laws, and publicly denouncing the violence and intimidation tactics used by insurrectionists.


Johns Hopkins Report Sheds Light on Armed Insurrection Threat to Democracy

A recent report by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for Gun Violence Solutions addresses the rising threat of armed insurrection to public health and democratic functioning, and provides recommendations for policy and practice to deter such threats.

The Defending Democracy: Addressing the Dangers of Armed Insurrection report asserts that events like the US Capitol insurrection in 2021 are part of a pattern where individuals justify political violence or threats using false interpretations of the U.S. Constitution. The report proposes measures at all levels of government to maintain the nation’s democratic integrity.

The suggested policies and measures include:

  • Regulating open and concealed carry of firearms in public spaces.
  • Enhancing enforcement of laws banning paramilitary activity.
  • Barring civilian possession of firearms at politically significant locations.
  • Enacting Extreme Risk Protection Order laws to disarm high-risk individuals.
  • Modifying firearm preemption laws to allow local policies addressing insurrection risks.
  • Publicly condemning violence and intimidation tactics by insurrectionists.

Tim Carey, JD, law and policy adviser at the Johns Hopkins Center condemns violence as a political tool and calls for policy changes to safeguard the public. The report underscores that the U.S. Constitution does not protect political violence or intimidation and refutes the assumption that the Second Amendment justifies insurrection or unregulated public carrying of firearms.

The report also highlights the growing influence of extremist ideologies in the U.S. and the role of relaxed gun laws in enabling these groups to disrupt government activities and deter political participation. It emphasizes that insurrectionist ideologies, often rooted in white supremacy and violence, pose genuine threats to democracy.

Kelly Roskam, JD, director of law and policy at the center, stresses that weak firearm laws enable insurrectionists to hinder government functionality and democratic participation with threats of violence.

Funds for the report were provided by the Joyce Foundation and the Morningstar Foundation. The authors include Tim Carey, JD, and Kelly Roskam, JD, with contributions from Josh Horwitz, JD.

Media contacts: Joe McHugh joemchugh@jhu.edu and Kris Henry khenry39@jhu.edu.


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