In the news: Searching for solutions to gun violence

A child carries a sign at an anti-violence rally in Philadelphia in March. Photo by Joe Kaczmarek

In New York City now, the epidemic of violence now “has politicians, precinct commanders and the public searching for answers,” and finding little agreement.

But as close as Staten Island, a new program will fund “crisis intervention, therapeutic and legal services, conflict mediation and violence prevention in schools and youth and community development.”

Meanwhile, a new web site is calling on NY Gov. Cuomo to support “microstamping” technology that would enable police officers to track shell casing found at crime scenes back to the weapons that fired them.

Police chiefs say they want better sharing of state records with the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, a federal program that scours database records to determine firearm purchase eligibility.

A response to the recent Brady Center: Guns in Sports report suggests that violent crime might “evaporate” if marijuana possession were to be decriminalized.

In Chicago, a medical center is partnering with CeaseFire, treating violence as a disease with proven public health techniques.

A University of Chicago Crime Lab study shows that intensive counseling of at-risk high school students, coupled with a rigorous after-school sports program, can sharply reduce violent crime and youth-on-youth crime rates.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn says that the city will have to “figure out how to reach out to people with guns in their hands and interrupt what they’re doing before they take actions.”

A letter to the Seattle Times argues: “Solutions are out there for those brave enough, creative enough and forward-looking enough to seek them.”

In Hartford, CT, a program organized by the Connecticut Center for Nonviolence teaches kids to diffuse potentially violent situations before they escalate,

In Richmond, CA, another program sets itself apart from a strict law enforcement approach by emphasizing prevention and exclusively targeting a small group of young men from Richmond identified as being the most likely to either kill someone or be killed themselves. Operation Peacemaker Fellows commit to change their lives and undo the dynamics they’d helped to foster in their neighborhood.

Over the border in Toronto, a city councilor is leading an initiative to ban guns and ammunition from the city.

But the director of a youth center in Canada suggests that communities must “focus on prevention and intervention, encourage systematic and broad-scale community change, develop partnerships with local organizations and promote early-intervention programs for at-risk young people.

In Philadelphia, we recently visited a jail where volunteers from Mothers in Charge were mentoring prisoners in the “Thinking for a Change” program.

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