Gun council talks ways to curb firearm violence

The Community Leadership Council on Gun Violence met with its subcommittees Wednesday to discuss strategies on fighting gun violence among youth in Tallahassee.

The members agreed there is a gun violence problem in Tallahassee. The Strategic Planning Subcommittee requested the Tallahassee Police

Department to provide a crime analysis report that involved firearms from the past three years.

The Research and Special Project Division provided the council with a memorandum of statistics. The studies showed that in the years 2011 to 2013,black males between the ages of 18-29 represent the majority of both suspect involvement and victimization. Furthermore, the study showed that gang related gun violence was “10 percent for suspects and 7 percent for victims.”

Overall, gun violence in domestic relationships was 4.5 percent.

“It’s not youth who’s the problem here, its legal adults — young adults,” Chief of Police Michael DeLeo noted.

In comparison to 2014, January through June the statistics are similar.

“The concentration of suspects have changed,” DeLeo said, “hoping that’s a result of new policing squad placed in those areas.”

Citizens expressed their interests in “faith-based action” using community churches in areas of high gun violence to curate ways to get families involved.

Also, they spoke about neighborhood “beat keepers” residents who walk the streets of their neighborhoods and talk to neighbors about their concerns.

“Parental involvement plays a part in this [gun violence],” said Pam Hightower, who is also the Education and Youth Committee chair. “We [Leon County Schools] would love to work with the faith-based. We have things in place that we can tie into and that’s what we’re looking forward to.”

A big concern that the council had was the division within the council. Committee member Minister Rudy Ferguson announced he and Gloria Pugh shot a PSA about gun violence this past Sunday.

“Prior to this committee being established, that was something we already had on the table,” Ferguson said.

Edward L. Clark the Research and assessment Committee Chair stated that it would be best that the council stays unified.

“I think it’s prudent that we not splinter off,” Clark urged.

Clark, who is also a representative of the institute of Public Health at FAMU added:  “I think it’s very important – we maintain this effort – as a community effort.”

Gloria Pugh CEO/President of A Man with a Truck moving company noted that the focus of the council should be to established before moving on to PSAs.

Pugh, who was elected Chairperson of the committee that night stated, “When the time is right we will focus on PSAs.”

Pugh went on to say that she’s working on a communications committee to brand the council. “We need a cohesive message, saying we are united we [the community] stand as one.”

Reggie L. Bouthiller, a shareholder at Stearns Weaver Law firm, proposed that the council should prioritize "high incident areas." There is a relationship in those areas.

“I sort of intuitively feel that a lot of it has to do with challenges in those areas: poverty, homelessness… they need resources and help in terms of their communities,” Bouthiller said. “We need to figure out what kind of resources need to be brought to those particular areas to help them to figure out whether there’s a cause and effect."

Before the meeting was adjourned the council agreed to go through a more thorough analysis of the areas of high gun crime.

The next council meeting will be Oct. 3.