“It’s human violence”: Second community gun violence forum

City leaders and activists heard from the 7th District as they voiced concerns around the city's violence

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – City leaders and activists in Lexington host the city’s second gun violence forum. This comes just a few weeks after the city held a news conference about the recent uptick in crime.

Almost a month ago, the Gainesway community took part in the first gun violence forum with Lexington Police Chief Lawrence Weathers, ONE Lexington director Devine Carama and other city representatives.

Since that night, there have been 14 more injury-involved shootings and 4 more murders, tying Lexington with last year’s record-setting number of homicides. Monday, the panelists address concerns from District 7 and help give people an idea of the plans to fight the violence in the city and prevent the upward trend from continuing.

Carama says more people are talking about Lexington’s violence now than ever before. Carama says the violence is reaching areas that traditionally haven’t seen it in the city and have led to decisions like starting high school football games an hour earlier.

Chief  Weathers says the violence in the city is a complex and systemic issue. He says we currently live in a gun dominated world.

One community member asked with the number of guns circulating, what the plan was to keep those out of the wrong hands. Weathers says it will take involvement with families and at the grassroots level.

“It’s not gun violence, it’s human violence,” says LaMont Jones. “It’s human violence.”

Jones is a Lexingtonian to his core. A graduate from Dunbar in 1957 and a former teacher and minister. Now, with his family also in the city he’s worried for the future of his great-grandsons.

“We have a values deficit among too many of our youngsters and they grow up with that deficit and before you know it, they’re in the system, locked up in jail,” Jones says.

One Fayette County Public Schools teacher says this is a problem she’s been tracking for five years. Dr. Susan McLaughlin says the city isn’t doing enough to build resiliency and in the last three years, everyone has been drained and tapped out.

“It’s not just kids that are doing these shootings, if I’m correct, we’ve had a lot of adults that have been involved in this,” says McLaughlin. “So, let’s stop blaming the youth and start looking at why these adults don’t have the support they need.”

When it comes to how the violence should be addressed in the city, Dr. Brittany Gentry, a licensed therapist, says it starts with asking the kids and listening to the narratives of those directly involved.

Dr. Gentry says our brains handle trauma very similarly to older cars whose alarms sound when something gets too close and after a while of the alarm sounding for nothing, it just becomes background noise. Gentry says she works closely with many kids and teens who been the shooter or been shot at…And many are numb to the violence now.

“Over time, if I ask them if it’s normal, they say yes. Why? Because their car alarm had gone off since 5, when they watched their uncle shoot and kill somebody right in front of them. Or they live on the streets where the gunshots are like a lullaby, unfortunately,” says Gentry. “So after a while, your alarm no longer goes off.”

Gentry says Lexington needs to do research on the violence and act as a collective to help fix the problems.

The panelists at the gun violence forum say they took a lot of notes on Monday’s conversation and enjoyed how people-led it was.

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