Federal agencies and community leaders work toward plans to reduce gun violence in Buffalo

Local News

BUFFALO N.Y. (WIVB) — U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy and other community leaders are working toward making the streets of Buffalo safer. Police say, so far in 2021, 47 homicides have struck the Queen city. Officials fear the city is on pace for 88 by end of the year, and local officials and community activists say more action is needed.

“Talk is cheap. Less talk and more action,” said Ken Stephens, who’s the supervisor of the Peacemakers and the VP of the Stop the Violence Coalition.

Government leaders and local organizations gathered at Back to Basics Ministries on William street Wednesday night to hear directly from the community over the rise in gun violence.

“This isn’t us verses them in the sense trying to lock up the bad guys, it’s a part of what we do but It’s really about accountability and there’s many ways we can achieve accountability,” said U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy. “One is through the law but others are through family, and others are through the community.”

“It might have been years ago, it might have been two years ago, it might have been 10 years ago, but I guarantee even with this little crowd that’s here today I can find 8 or 10 people around right now that had a child killed,” said Back to Basics Ministries CEO Pastor James Giles. “No adult should bury their child.”

One of the major focuses was how to get illegal guns off of the streets. Pastor James Giles believes people are getting guns from other states and bringing them to Buffalo.

“We got people getting hurt, getting killed by guns that are being carted in here from other states with lax gun laws,” he said. “So we’re petitioning federal agencies and federal officials to say we need to begin to start thinking about that.”

Erie County District Attorney John Flynn, who also attended the meeting, said its possible bail reform is playing a role in the surge in crime.

“I am seeing more and more individuals getting let out on felony offenses in the past year and a half than in my first three years. That’s definitely a fact,” he said. He added though that he’s not sure if those people are tied the the recent shootings in the city.

“A lot of the non-fatal shootings are going unsolved. I don’t really know who’s committing those shootings,” he said.

Community leaders say they’re going to need all hand on deck to cut down on gun violence.

“No single entity is going to be able to solve this problem, no public entity is going to be able to solve this problem and no specific community entity,” Giles said.

“We may not all agree on what the solution might be and there may not be. In fact, I’m certain there isn’t just one solution. Law enforcement alone is not the solution, better education is not the solution, it’s a combination of all us these things that’s going to lead us forward here,” Kennedy said.

Sarah Minkewicz is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.

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