Local solutions to gun violence: community leaders weigh in

Although there is no panacea for gun violence, local groups and leaders say there are practical steps communities can take to help with prevention.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — It seems that after the news of all the mass shootings in the United States, communities are asking the same question: what practical solutions exist to prevent gun violence?

As of Monday afternoon, Sacramento police have not said whether the early Sunday morning shooting in downtown Sacramento was in any way gang-related. Still, community leaders say that whatever the reason, gun violence is unacceptable and there are some practical steps to take.

Sacramento has seen positive results in the past. In 2018 and 2019, the city had zero youth homicides.

Chet Hewitt, president and CEO of the Sierra Health Foundationhe said “that’s something we haven’t seen in the 30 years we’ve been collecting data, so we know a lot of interventions can really stem the tide.”

He said that youth programs, such as those operated through the Black Child Legacy Campaign – not only support young people, but also build bridges between communities, which can help prevent violence.

RELATED: There were zero reported youth homicides in Sacramento for 2 years. What changed?

“A great city takes care of its children,” said Hewitt.

Kenneth Duncan is the founder and CEO of Ball Out Academy, which offers free basketball and tutoring programs for youth in the Sacramento area. At a recent March Madness basketball tournament for youth through the Black Child Legacy Campaign – Oak Park, Duncan told ABC10 that youth programs bring kids from other neighborhoods together.

“Say you run into a guy later at a party or a dance or whatever and they’re from a different neighborhood and someone is upset,” Duncan said. “’No, I played basketball with that guy in March Madness or Kings and Queens Rise,’ or, ‘We were at Black Boys Build together,’ so now we’re building cross-neighborhood brotherhoods and really just breaking down those barriers and making sure we’re trying. to reduce the crime rate here in Sacramento.”

RELATED: ‘March Madness’ Coming to Oak Park in Youth Basketball Tournament

Seeing an increase in gun violence, Sacramento is not alone. Nationwide, gun violence has increased during the pandemic, according to the gun violence file—an independent research and data collection group.

Some are working to combat gun violence through lobbying, such as the national group Moms demand action. ABC10 spoke to local advocate Rosemary Yoshikawa.

“The last two weeks we’ve been talking to legislators across the state about supporting ‘arms sense’ bills,” Yoshikawa said. “In addition to that work, we work with community groups, the groups that really do the work in the communities, like Advance Peace, Movement 4 Life, the Stephon Clark family.”

RELATED: Former Sac Police Chief on Shooting: ‘There is something missing in our society that needs to be addressed’

As community groups work to prevent gun violence, leaders say it’s also important to support those who have already been devastated by it.

the California Victim Compensation Board provides money to victims and their families for expenses related to violent crime, including medical bills, therapy, and funeral costs.

Like Jessica Cardenas with Lao Family Community Development he said, “these medical bills are going to be very expensive. Just letting them know, like, ‘Hey, you don’t have to go through this alone; there’s a whole agency out there that can help you’…so, you know, don’t feel overwhelmed while you’re still trying to process this event.”

RELATED: Survivors of Violence Gather on Capitol Hill to Call for More Funding for Community Solutions

Mrs. Ahisha Lewis, Founding Director of a different pathHe said, “It’s okay not to be okay. You don’t have to wear the mask. What you do need to do, however, is learn to be present and… make sure that those emotions that you are experiencing are not being projected in an unhealthy way, in terms of retaliation.”

He explained how gun violence affects entire communities.

“Here there are no victories. Someone is grieving for the loved one that he has lost. Someone is hurt. Someone witnessed it,” Lewis said. “As a professional, I have to be present for it. As a community advocate, I have to talk about it.”

The community is invited to attend a vigil at 7:30 pm Monday night at Ali Youssefi Square, at Seventh and K streets in downtown Sacramento. Mayor Darrell Steinberg and other community leaders will also be there.

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