Kobi Khong

Kobi Khong

Class Of 2024

 Center for Gun Violence and Prevention, JHSPH

Kobi Khong has been working on several projects at the Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions, at BSPH.  We asked him about his experience and reflections.

What got you interested in gun violence?

I think what got me interested in gun violence is the same thing that many of my generations grew up seeing, what felt like an almost constant news cycle of school shootings and mass tragedies. That I think was a major defining factor for me and a lot of my peers in terms of our values and our goals. I remember being 10 and hearing about the shooting at Sandy Hook, I remember asking my mom if I could write the families a card because I didn’t know what to do, but I just felt the need to do something. I didn’t want to have to wait until someone close to me died from firearms before I became involved.

Now that I’ve grown up and now attend Hopkins, I have the opportunity to contribute to the ongoing effort to make a change, and not only learn from the lens of public health but also be a part of the teams doing research to evaluate the best ways to approach these issues. 

We understand you’ve been involved in a couple projects at the Bloomberg School of Public Health.  Can you explain the projects and who you have worked with?

I’ve had a really wonderful opportunity at Hopkins that I wouldn’t have had anywhere else, to work with really amazing faculty on projects at the School of Public Health! With Dr. Shannon Frattaroli and Amy Molocznik, I was originally part of a team working on coding cases in Maryland for Extreme Risk Protection Orders usage. The work that all of us research assistants across the nation did helped them publish a manuscript “Extreme risk protection orders in response to threats of multiple victim/mass shooting in six U.S. states: A descriptive study”. I’ve also had the opportunity to help work with the California team of the ERPO project to help them with Data Cleaning. There’s also the chance for me to continue working with the Maryland team to help write a Maryland-specific ERPO paper, so I’m really excited!

Under Dr. Cass Crifasi, Dr. Mitch Doucette, and the doctoral student Julie Ward, I’m also working on a long-term project related to shootings by police where I abstract data from the Gun Violence Archive for future researcher use and I’m also building a literature review for a paper related to firearm violence and road rage.

Being at Hopkins also has allowed me to find opportunities to explore other topics in public health, I’m doing a systematic review in residential segregation and behavioral health outcomes with Dr. Amanda Latimore who is an adjunct professor at Bloomberg with her project at the American Institute for Research, and this past semester I also interned at the National Center for Health Research in D.C.!

As you have gotten to understand gun violence issues, what are your “take-aways”?

Throughout my time learning about gun violence, the things that stood out to me is just the different levels of scales that exist when talking about gun violence and injury prevention. Mass shootings were what originally drew me into firearm violence, but those only make up around 1% of all deaths from firearms. The issue of firearms in the United States is so much larger and has so many more different frameworks we need to address it. Issues of health equity, social determinants of health, mental health, and access to firearms are all important, and as much as I would want a federal-level solution, as the panelists talked about during their discussion we also need to come from the standpoint of community members and activists and the levels of city and state.