As many celebrated the nation’s independence, gun violence again flared across the nation and struck Rochester–where 11 people were shot, three fatally, since July 1.
“I am deeply saddened but not surprised that the wave of unusually high levels of violence that swept the nation this weekend also swept through Rochester,” Mayor Malik Evans said in a July 5 statement.
“Once again my heart is broken for the victims, families and friends impacted by these tragic and senseless acts; and once again I am grateful to the men and women of the Rochester Police Department and our partners in law enforcement for their fast and incredibly courageous responses, which prevented further loss of life and injury.”
The latest killings added to the record number of gun-related homicides in Rochester during the first half of 2022. According to RPD data, the city recorded 28 homicides by firearm in the six months ended June 30. That compares with 25 homicides in the same period a year ago, which previously was the highest number over the last two decades.
The percentage of homicides by firearm is also higher than in previous years. Of total homicides in the first half of 2022, 82 percent were committed with a gun, up 14 percentage points from the previous year, and a 12-point increase compared with the 22-year average of 70 percent. As previously reported by the Beacon, the number of illegal guns in circulation also has been on the rise.
“The common denominator on all of these incidents, whether premeditated or circumstantial, is illegal guns. I will continue to include my voice among the mayors and urban leaders calling for common-sense solutions to these very predictable challenges,” Evans said in his statement, referring to his participation in a statewide mayors meeting on gun violence.
One shooting took place early Tuesday morning in Clinton-Baden Park. One person was killed and three others were wounded at an illegal, unsanctioned party at the Trenton and Pamela Jackson R-Center. The Clinton neighborhood has accounted for nearly half of all Rochester homicides by firearm this year–a total of 13.
The mayor urged people who attended the event to seek peaceful resolutions and look for support offered by Pathways to Peace street outreach teams. He also decried agitators at the event who “sought to further inflame the crowd and turn the violence against the officers” who arrived on the scene.
According to his statement, the incident involved more than 300 people. Evans has instructed the police department to step up its enforcement of illegal gatherings and asked community members to call 911 if they have information about an illegal event.
“The life you save could be your own or that of someone you love,” Evans said.
Jacob Schermerhorn is a Rochester Beacon contributing writer. The Beacon welcomes comments from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name.
Bingo. Semper Fi.
Hey Frank, well thought out response, but you had time to blame Trump but forgot to mention personal responsibility and enforcing the gun laws on the books now
Let me speculate about the spate of homicides committed by young men in our community and the nation. First, the pandemic disrupted every aspect of social and economic order. Second, anger was stoked by the previous President and community leaders challenging law and order after the killing of George Floyd and others. The third is the rapid and unfettered speech on social media; much of it was and still is hateful and provocative. Then there’s the unqualified no-holds-barred attack on police, prosecutors, judges, and politicians by far-left progressives without regard for unintended consequences and their demands that society enacts prison and bail reform wholesale. Then there are the seeds planted years ago in the fertile minds of young people by the “self-esteem” movement that everyone is a winner and youth can do no wrong. Their feelings are paramount, so if someone insults them and makes them feel bad, many see that as a reason to lash out at those making them uncomfortable. Taken to the extreme, to them, it justifies getting a firearm and killing someone or many people.
Firearms are a tool. Granted, using a gun for killing is easy, but if guns were unavailable, some killers would find other ways to harm. This is borne out by the recent killing of former Prime Minister Abe in Japan with a homemade gun or pouring gasoline in a building stairway, another recent mass killing in Japan, a country with some of the strictest gun laws in the world. Another red herring is that killings can be mitigated by making more mental health available. First, it will take decades to train an adequate number of mental health experts. Second, we must remove the stigma of seeking mental health services as a society. And potential patients must be willing to not only seek out help but must also then become compliant and participate in their treatment. We must remember that for decades progressives and their representatives in Albany closed residential mental health treatment centers on the premise that mentally ill people would be fine if they took their medication. Now we have a massive drug and homeless challenge, and many of these people end up in jails or prison and don’t get the treatment they need. That was evident in March a year ago when a mentally ill man, Daniel Prude, died after being mistreated by police and emergency room physicians, dismissed by his family, and walked naked in the street. These are symptoms of much bigger societal problems, which won’t be solved by adding more police officers and increasing patrols. Outreach programs are costly and yield limited results. Visionary solid political leadership is needed to bring parents, schools, police, pastors, physicians, social workers, and young people together and actively and continuously strive to take steps that will yield results in the future. The die was cast years ago and is now erupting in never-ending violence. Adults must also model acceptable behavior for young people to emulate, which also seems impossible in today’s politically charged atmosphere.
Rochester must become a gun-free “sanctuary “ city! I’m sure it would be overruled by SCOTUS but we could try. Gun buy-backs would help some but so would the threat of getting rid of bail for infractions, a massive effort in conflict resolution education, and the eradication of the rampant narcotics trade in our city. We must also undergo intense efforts at looking at the roots of this violence. It’s about time we stopped talking about solutions and acting now.