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Community Leaders

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Ideas For Action To Reduce Gun Violence

Community leaders are especially equipped for building safer neighborhoods and communities. More than any other group of people, these leaders have connections to all sectors of a community. These connections provide tremendous knowledge and insight into the problems, and often the causes, of gun crime and violence. The connections that community leaders possess also provide extensive knowledge and access to community resources. Community leaders can take significant action to assist in reducing gun crime and violence by simply doing what they do best: listening to the community, learning about the issue and educating others, taking action and taking the lead, and speaking out publicly. And this is best done when community leaders from key segments - police, schools, faith-based organizations, businesses - join together with each making a specific commitment to help stop violent crime. Engaging the position and connections of community leaders will help weave the community fabric more tightly against gun violence and toward a better quality of life for all.

Listen to what community members are saying.

  • Be accessible and open to community feedback and concerns.
  • Partner with the U.S. attorney's office, your local solicitor's office, and your local police department to hold focus groups throughout the community to learn about neighborhood needs, concerns, and strengths.
  • Encourage business and civic groups to invite speakers, such as the chief of police, the local solicitor, and the U.S. attorney to discuss current efforts to reduce gun violence. Focus on what role businesses and civic groups can play in reducing gun violence.
  • Find out if there are youth against violence groups in your schools or neighborhood organizations. If so, ask if you can meet with them to find out what they're doing. Listen to their concerns and suggested solutions.

Learn and educate others.

  • Get the facts on the legal, physical, emotional, and fiscal consequences of gun violence to the victims, the offenders, and their families. Spread those facts far and wide through locally trusted media, such as community newspapers, organization newsletters, or church bulletins.
  • Develop a directory of community resources that can help prevent or deal with gun violence and its consequences.
  • Gather other leaders for a community speak-out or summit to emphasize that the community rejects gun violence; invite victims and their families to speak. Educate audiences about the legal and other consequences of gun violence.
  • Provide a platform for youth groups against violence to voice their concerns and talk about how they might help.

Take action, take the lead.

  • Endorse funding and other kinds of support for prevention-focused activities in the community, ranging from anger management classes, anti-gang task forces to early childhood education, after-school programs, and mentoring initiatives.
  • Broker collaborations and partnerships between government and private groups working toward violence reduction goals. Focus attention on the benefits of these joint-working arrangements.
  • Take the lead in providing strategy development and implementation assistance to neighborhoods. Provide training on strategic planning. Assist in providing access to data for neighborhood needs assessment.
  • Spearhead the development of community mediation services to help neighbors settle disputes peaceably.

Speak out.

  • In conjunction with law enforcement task forces, state and federal prosecutors, and others in the criminal justice community, testify about the impact of sound enforcement, intervention, and prevention policies toward reducing gun violence.
  • Get on the agenda of legislative sessions throughout your city and county. Speak at neighborhood agency boards meetings, school board meetings, and parent-teacher organizations.
  • Encourage news media personnel you know to promote efforts of gun violence reduction in the community, to publicize gun prosecutions documenting the consequences of gun crime, and to encourage stories that highlight young people who have done well, especially despite difficult circumstances, affirming that violence is not the only response to negative situations.
  • Recognize and publicize successes. Publicly document reductions in gun crime. Recognize the contributions of all who have helped.
     

www.ProjectSafeNeighborhoods.gov

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Updated February 5, 2015