WATCH: Vanderbilt University and Unity Project to host virtual discussion on facts and evidence surrounding the gun debate in America

As the nation grapples with the continuing tragedy of mass shootings, Vanderbilt University and the Vanderbilt Project on Unity and American Democracy hosted a live virtual panel discussion, "Facts and Evidence: Navigating the Gun Debate in America," on Tuesday, June 7, 2022, at noon to discuss the issue of gun violence in America. The discussion featured expert faculty and guest speakers, including Vanderbilt University's Jonathan Metzl, Sophie Bjork-James and James Blumstein and Duke University's Joseph Blocher.

The panel addressed the facts and evidence surrounding gun violence, including data on gun deaths, mass shootings, violent crime, public opinion statistics, potential solutions and the roadblocks to such solutions. 

Watch Here


This discussion is moderated by Samar Ali, research professor of political science and law, co-chair of the Vanderbilt Project on Unity and American Democracy, and president and CEO of Millions of Conversations, a nonprofit that brings Americans together by promoting positivity and inclusion to transcend critical divides. The panelists include experts on sociology, medicine, psychiatry, health policy, law, constitutional advocacy and more: 

  • Jonathan Metzl holds the Frederick B. Rentschler II Chair and is professor of medicine, health, and society, professor of sociology and professor of psychiatry. Metzl is the director of the Department of Medicine, Health, and Society and a renowned expert on gun violence and mental illness. He has recently appeared on ABC, MSNBC, C-SPAN and many other national media outlets discussing gun violence. 
  • James Blumstein is University Professor of Constitutional Law and Health Law and Policy, professor of management at Owen Graduate School of Management and director of the Vanderbilt Health Policy Center. Blumstein is a nationally renowned and published scholar of health law, law and medicine, and voting rights. 
  • Sophie Bjork-James is an assistant professor of anthropology, and her specializations include race, racism and hate crimes. Her work has appeared on NBC Nightly News, NPR's All Things Considered, BBC Radio 4's Today and in The New York Times. 
  • Joseph Blocher is a professor of law at Duke University and co-director of the Duke Center for Firearms Law. Blocher's principal academic interests include federal and state constitutional law, the First and Second Amendments and legal history and property, and he has published a wide range of academic articles on these topics. He has spoken before Congress and written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate and Vox, among other outlets. 

What: Facts and Evidence: Navigating the Gun Debate in America 

When: Tuesday, June 7, 2022, at noon 

Where: Watch here

About the Vanderbilt Project on Unity and American Democracy  

The Vanderbilt Project on Unity and American Democracy is a nonpartisan initiative that aims to elevate research and evidence-based reasoning into the national conversation. Drawing on original research, evidence-based papers and crucial conversations from Vanderbilt's world-class faculty and visionary thought leaders of all political persuasions, the timely endeavor aims to give policymakers and the public tools to combat conspiracy theories and unfounded ideology with evidence, data and respectful discourse. The Vanderbilt Project on Unity and American Democracy can make a meaningful contribution to solving society's most pressing challenges and bridging our deepest differences.  

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