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Public meeting puts focus on curbing gun violence in Memphis

Published: Nov. 18, 2021 at 11:25 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The third crime forum in two weeks took place Thursday night, this time in South Memphis.

Young Dolph’s murder was mentioned briefly, but the focus remained on finding solutions to gun violence, starting with asking a very tough question.

“I want to ask my fellow white brothers and sisters in the audience, and my fellow Asian and Hispanic brothers and sisters what’s the secret? Because when I look at the statistics, 90 percent of the victims of homicide this year have been folk that look like me,” said Dr. Bruce Randolph a health officer at the Shelby County Health Department.”

Dr. Andrew Kerwin, chief of trauma surgery at Regional One Medical Center, told the community members in the audience he operates on a gunshot victim nearly every day.

“The gun violence in Memphis is staggering,” he said. Last year in 2020, we took care of more than 1000 patients who had gunshot wounds.”

Memphis police data show more than 1,900 people have been shot from January through September of this year. And there have been more than 5,300 violent incidents involving guns during that same time period this year, far surpassing the previous five years.

Memphis Police Chief C.J. Davis said the state’s permitless carry law is part of the problem.

“Unfortunately, Tennessee has a gun culture and various types of simple conflicts are being resolved by gunfire,” said Davis.

Acting U.S. Attorney for the western district of Tennessee, Joe Murphy, says 20 percent of the violent offenders commit 60 to 80 percent of the violent crimes.

“We need to make sure young men have a purpose and we support them before they get in trouble,” he said.

Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner had a message for the crowd gathered inside Riverside Missionary Baptist Church for the forum.

“Parents, children need parents,” said Bonner. “I executed search warrants in my boy’s room all the time.”

Attendees who are desperate for help and solutions asked about parenting programs and mental health services.

“What is it in your community that you’re doing,” asked Randolph again. “And what is it we’re not doing?”

Data from the Memphis Police Department show more than 1,300 guns have been stolen out of cars since January. Every member of the panel mentioned it’s a serious issue. Many of those guns are then used to commit more crimes.

The gun violence community meeting was sponsored by the Memphis-Shelby Crime Commission.

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