Anti-violence advocate: Too many guns on the streets, people turning to violence to solve conflict

Crime

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — U.S. Attorney JP Kennedy is stepping in to help Buffalo amid the recent violence. In a press release, Kennedy said he’s having a meeting Thursday with other federal agencies. Kennedy also said he has ongoing conversations with Erie County District Attorney John Flynn and the Buffalo police.

Leaders in Buffalo are also speaking out on the surge of gun violence that’s claimed so many lives this year.

District Attorney Flynn said he welcomes any help he can get regarding the violence in the city. He’s hoping for more resources from the federal government to assist in finding the people committing these violent crimes and getting them off the streets.

With close to 50 shootings in six months, 2021 is on track to be Buffalo’s deadliest year since 1994. Flynn said a small group of people are committing 90% of the violent crimes.

“I personally think taking these actors who are committing the homicides and non-fatal shootings, taking them off the streets and putting them in jail will make the streets safer,” said Flynn.

He also said he needs more people to come forward with information regarding the shootings.

Pastor James Giles from Back to Basics Outreach Ministries said people are afraid of retaliation if they speak up.

“This has escalated in such a way where so many weapons are available, you’ve got people who aren’t necessarily part of a gang but they have a gang mentality, if you mess with me, if you mess with my money, here’s what’s gonna happen to you,” Pastor Giles said.

Some people in the community are looking towards prevention efforts, specifically community policing.

John Evans is the president of the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association.

“I just don’t see that the community police model, I just don’t see it being effective to combat, these individuals are hardcore,” he said. “I do believe it could be effective in getting some younger individuals that aren’t necessarily entrenched in gangs but for a real gang member I don’t believe that would be effective I think they’d laugh at you.”

But what’s causing the spike in violence? Evans said bail reform and lack of consequences while Giles said too many people have guns.

“People are now feeling a need to protect themselves and we’re just having a spontaneous combustion of people instead of resolving conflict or going away or walking away mad they want to hurt and harm each other.”

Kayla Green is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.

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