Thursday, March 28, 2013

Gun Violence and the Need for Change

This week, I have the opportunity to speak at the No to Gun Violence, Yes to Life Campaign and Moms Demand Action rallies to stop gun violence and share my voice among a group of people all fighting for one cause, to end gun violence. As I prepare to stand before the citizens of this community, I pondered how I will discuss the appalling number of gun deaths not just in our community, but in our nation.

Every day our officers leave home to patrol our neighborhoods and streets not knowing what dangerous situations they may encounter. As Chief of Police, I have to do everything I can to make their jobs easier and safer. Approximately 897,000 guns are carried by the law enforcement officers in the United States…a small number compared to the 310 million guns owned by U.S. citizens. With 88.8 guns for every 100 people, the United States is heavily armed, and it is reflected in our gun-related assaults and homicides. In the past five years in the City of St. Louis, there have been 8,208 Aggravated Assaults with a gun and 85% of homicide deaths were caused by gunfire.

I began my duties as Chief of Police on January 1, 2013…just 17 days after one of the deadliest mass shootings in history, the tragedy in Newtown. I asked myself what I thought needed to be done so that a massacre like the one in Connecticut never happened again.

My answer includes stronger community support and partnerships, stricter gun laws and mental health  awareness. Also, those convicted of weapon charges must suffer the consequences. Punishing gun crimes with probation is not adequate and sends the wrong message to criminals.

Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that aside from the United States' high homicide rate, firearms caused work-loss, rehabilitation and emotional trauma  in excess of $60 billion. The CDC has since called gun violence an “epidemic” and officially declared the issue a “public health crisis.”

As a community, and as human beings, we must take a stand, and demand change.

No to Gun Violence, Yes to Life Campaign
Friday, March 29, 2013 at 11:30 am
St. Paul A.M.E. Church
1260 Hamilton Ave.

Moms Demand Action Rally
Saturday, March 30, 2013 at 11am
Kiener Plaza
500 Pine St.