The Gainesville Police Department released data and discussed updates to its “One Community” plan during a city commission meeting Monday amid increasing gun violence.
This year alone, 45 people have been shot or injured by gunfire, GPD statistics show. As a form of mitigation, GPD formed response councils consisting of neighborhood and community members to make recommendations on how GPD may reduce the homicides and shootings in Gainesville.
GPD Assistant Chief Lonnie Scott encourages the community to participate in gun buyback programs — with no questions asked — as part of a plan to build trust within the community, invest in prevention and intervention programs, and use precision enforcement efforts.
On Oct. 30 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., GPD will hold a gun buyback event at Mt. Moriah Baptist Church, located at 718 SE 11th St. Visa gift cards will be given out for revolvers for $100, semi-auto pistols for $200 and rifles or shotguns for $300.
The department also plans on having other sessions where residents can turn over their guns in exchange for a gift card. Specific dates for additional sessions are unclear as of Tuesday.
GPD is working with the State Attorney’s Office to ensure that convicted felons who turn in guns will not face repercussions.
Scott said when guns are collected they will be destroyed. Not destroying them would only further the chance they could be used to kill someone in the future, he said.
“It will be something that we would have to hold in our hearts to know that we took guns off the streets and then some type or way it made it back and killed someone,” Scott said.
Commissioner Desmon Duncan-Walker has talked to parents and kids affected by gun violence in the community. After speaking with a mother who lost her son last year to gun violence Duncan-Walker told the commission the mother said:
Gun violence doesn’t just kill the victim. It kills everybody that is attached to him or her.
Duncan-Walker said she’s working with Alachua County Public Schools Superintendent Carlee Simon to create a cultural and community space at Duval Elementary School, hopefully, to give them a creative outlet to prevent at-risk youth from resorting to gun violence.
“It’s going to take all of us because I refuse to allow it to continue to kill us all,” Duncan-Walker said.
A local Gainesville minister was compelled to take to the podium after the Oct. 12 shooting at Green Apple Liquor.
At the age of 12, he was shot for refusing to join a gang in his hometown of Philadelphia. Soon after, he lost about six friends around the same age to gun and gang violence.
He doesn’t want to see the same happen to the residents of his new home.
“I want to bring an end to what I went through, what's going on in Gainesville,” he said. “I will use every resource I have to make sure that that violence ceases and that there are no more victims, no more young people, being hurt or killed.”
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Isabella Douglas is a second-year journalism major and the criminal justice reporter for The Alligator's Metro desk. She previously worked as a news assistant for The Alligator's University team and as a contributing writer for the New Tampa & Wesley Chapel Neighborhood News. When she isn't reporting, she can be found reorganizing her bookshelf and adding books to her ever-growing TBR.