Message from Dean Williams on Florida shooting

Dear Harvard Chan School community,

It is with great sadness that I write to you on the occasion of another mass shooting, this one at a high school in South Florida that has taken the lives of at least 17 people and wounded at least 15 others. We mourn the victims, and our thoughts are with their families and the members of their community.

Unfortunately, these senseless tragedies have become all too common. The Gun Violence Archive, which tracks reports of mass shootings, reports that yesterday’s Florida incident was the 30th mass shooting of 2018.

As many of you know, federal funding for gun violence research has been stifled for two decades. This research could lead to a greater understanding of the causes of gun violence and ways it can be prevented. In that difficult environment, David Hemenway and his colleagues at the Harvard Injury Control Research Center continue to publish studies showing that the availability of more firearms leads to more homicides and more suicides.

As public health leaders—and as concerned citizens—we must double down on our efforts to make it clear that gun violence prevention is a national crisis that requires a public health approach. We must pursue an end to the funding restrictions that hold back the work of gun researchers in this country. We must work with other public health scholars, health professionals, and policymakers to prevent future mass shooting tragedies. Our efforts will continue.


Michelle A. Williams, ScD
Dean of the Faculty
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health