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New York Officials Launch National Network to Combat Gun Violence

by Rebecca Lewis
A A
Local officials on the steps of City Hall

Rebecca Lewis, WFUV

The National Network to Combat Gun Violence seeks to open dialogue about how to reduce gun-related crimes across the U.S.

Following a string of shootings this weekend, New York City Councilmember Jumaane Williams and other local officials announced a new initiative to combat gun violence in New York and across the country.

Over the weekend, 21 people were shot across the five boroughs, leaving four dead. Williams, who co-chairs the City Council's Task Force to Combat Gun Violence, said this is unacceptable. That's why he, along with other local New York officials, have launched the National Network to Combat Gun Violence. This comes at the end of Gun Violence Awareness Month in June.

Williams said the goal of the network is to create a dialogue among local officials all over the nation about what works and what doesn't with reducing gun-related crimes. He said he was speaking with officials from California and Washington D.C. about what they were doing to address gun violence locally, and he said he realized that more communication is necessary throughout the country.

"The networks either don't exist or are not working properly, and we hoped to create a network that's seamlessly communicating back and forth," Williams said Monday.

The network has support from organizations like New Yorkers Against Gun Violence and The Fortune Society.

The latter helps ex-convicts re-enter society after being released from prison. Marlon Peterson is director of community relations for the group and runs a program called "I Live," which addresses the trauma involved with gun violence. When he was younger, he was arrested for his involvement in an armed robbery, which left two people dead. He didn't shoot anyone but was put in jail for 12 years on charges of assault, attempted robbery and weapons possession. He said he doesn't know why he did it and that he made a "stupid decision." Now, Peterson wants to end the cycle of violence he says is associated with guns and hopes the network will help do that.

"The shooter and the people who are being shot, in many cases, these folks are experiencing the same trauma growing up in these same neighborhoods and...gun violence is just one of the ways that people are reacting to this trauma," Peterson said.

The founding members of the network include city-level legislators from New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, Denver, Los Angeles, Dallas, Seattle, Baltimore, Albany, Berkeley, Jersey City, Madison, Yonkers, Newark, Hoboken, White Plains, Richmond, Mt. Vernon, Olympia and Indianapolis.

The network plans to hold periodic conference calls, during which members can hear about challenges and successes from other cities, observe presentations for anti-gun violence policy experts and suggest new approaches. It also plans to hold an annual conference starting in 2015 and develop an initial report of findings from member cities.

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