COLUMBUS, Ohio — Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther declared gun violence as a public health crisis during a press conference to announce the formation of a new alliance to combat it.
On Tuesday, the mayor was joined by others at the Linden Community Center to introduce the Columbus Alliance Against Illegal Guns.
Ginther said the goal is to remove illegal guns off the streets of Columbus and prevent them from flowing into other cities.
The new initiative is made up of individuals within the community, faith leaders, city leaders and medical professionals.
Ginther said they’re not waiting for others to act and Columbus Public Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts is working with other health departments to tackle the problem from a public health and public safety perspective.
“We know if we disrupt and go after the networks and the trafficking of illegal crime guns, we can bring violence down,” said Ginther. “We don't grow guns in this city of Columbus we don't manufacture them here.”
Ginther said the group will also form new initiatives to prevent gun violence.
On March 1, the group will be launching the Group Violence Intervention, a program aimed at reducing gun violence within cities across America.
Ginther also called on help from the federal government by requesting that Columbus be included in the National Firearms Trafficking Strike Force.
The force was formed last year to reduce the number of illegal guns and violence within cities across America.
Ginther said ending gun violence won’t happen overnight, but the effort is needed by everyone.
10TV spoke with Ralph Carter the founder of We Are Linden. Carter was hosting his weekly community engagement program for kids at Douglas Park Recreation Center.
For him, the fight against gun violence is something he’s dedicated his life to. Carter said he has multiple programs that help mentor and stir kids away from violence.
“These guns, it's…outrageous. You want kids to be able to dream. Nowadays, they can't see past tomorrow,” Carter said.
Carter said he’s for any new initiative that is geared towards helping fight gun violence.
“I don't want this to be just something that we're talking about with no action behind it. We want this to be a real freight train and really knock out this violence,” he said.
Last year, police reported the highest number of homicides to take place in a single calendar year in Columbus. Now, one and a half months into 2022, the homicide rate has reduced by more than 50% compared to this time last year.
Data released from the Columbus Division of Police shows a total of 28 homicides were reported by Feb. 14, 2021.
Currently, police have reported 12 homicides in the city this year. According to police, a firearm was listed as the cause of death for all 12 homicides.