Each year, The Baltimore Sun hosts the "Marylander of the Year" contest, in which readers and Sun staff nominate the people they want to see crowned with the prestigious title. (We hear there's a laurel wreath made out of actual crab legs, but The Sun has yet to confirm or deny this. Fingers crossed!)
Last year, Orioles manager Buck Showalter claimed the honor. This year, Johns Hopkins family, one of our own is a finalist!
That's right—Professor Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, is one of five contenders for "Marylander of the Year" for 2013. The other finalists are NAACP President Ben Jealous, paralympic athlete Tatyana McFadden, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank, and Maryland Institute College of Art President Fred Lazarus.
All four of them are quite deserving of the honor. But if we're being honest, we'd really love to see Webster take home the title. Here's why:
In the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school shootings last December, and with the nation and its leaders embroiled in a debate about guns and gun policy, Webster and colleague Jon Vernick organized a two-day summit that brought together gun policy experts and resulted in a list of recommendations to help inform policy. More recently, Webster was part of a consortium that recommended state-level policy changes to address gun violence and mental illness. It was Webster's research, notes The Sun, "that led to the state's new licensing system for handgun buyers, a part of the law aimed not just at reducing rare tragedies like mass shootings but at reducing the everyday toll of gun violence in the streets of places like Baltimore."
If you've spent any time thinking about gun control, then you're well aware of the fact that many of the arguments surrounding the G-word rely on emotional appeals and evocative rhetoric. To Webster's credit, he's found a way to encourage policymakers to move forward from their current partisan stalemate. As The Sun points out, "Mr. Webster has become a leader [in the gun control discussion] by approaching the debate with data and reason."
There are many Marylanders who deserve to be suffixed with The Sun's "Of The Year" accolade. (For instance, we thought about nominating these guys!) But we are especially proud of Daniel Webster and the work he's doing.
If you'd like to vote for Webster, or any of the amazing candidates, you can do so over at The Sun's website.
Congrats, Professor Webster! Whether or not you win the title, we'll still probably make you a laurel wreath out of crab legs!