Community leaders offer perspectives on gun violence

Published: Nov. 16, 2022 at 8:16 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Jefferson County District Attorney Danny Carr, U.S. Attorney Prim Escalona, and Jefferson County Health Officer Dr. Mark Wilson were panelists at the Rotary Club of Birmingham’s meeting Wednesday to discuss a public health crisis – gun violence.

The problem touches every corner of our country—including Jefferson County.

“The Birmingham Police Department reports that overall, crime this year is down in comparison to last year, and that includes violent crime. However, homicides have spiked to potentially all-time highs,” said President & CEO of the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, Chris Nanni.

A teen’s death Wednesday morning brings the total number of homicides to 129 for the year.

U.S. Attorney Prim Escalona said most of the crime in Jefferson County is committed by a small part of the population, and a huge chunk of homicide offenders have a history of domestic violence.

“It’s 74%, and so, what we know is that if you are violent in the home, you will be violent in the community,” Escalona said.

“We put those people in federal prison because we know that makes communities safer,” she explained.

But Jefferson County District Attorney Danny Carr said we cannot prosecute our way out of gun violence saying prevention is key.

“That’s why we thought about doing the Second Chance Job Fair because people are going to come out of prison and if they get hope, they get livable wage jobs then what happens is they become your credible messengers in the community— to try to stop these young people from committing an act that’s going to change their lives,” Carr said.

And Dr. Wilson said in order to help stop future crimes, we must help victims, which is why he believes hospital-based violence intervention programs are so important.

“The people that have survived a gunshot wound over the next five years, they have a 40% chance of being reinjured, and a 20% chance of being dead at the end of five years. So, there’s a big opportunity here,” Dr. Wilson said.

Dr. Wilson said everyone has been trained for the hospital-based violence intervention program, and he anticipates the program can start within the next couple of months.

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