Congress Has Not Done Enough To Address Gang-Related Violence, NY Crime Commission Says

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Congressional focus is directed too much toward mass shootings and has not done enough about gang-related “routine shootings,” a top official at Citizens Crime Commission of New York City told the Daily Caller.

Members of Congress have previously proposed gun control measures after mass shootings, such as banning “assault weapons” and enacting red flag laws after mass shootings in Pittsburgh in 2018 and Dayton, Ohio, in 2019. Meanwhile, at least 58 minors were killed in gang-related violence in 2020, according to data provided to the Daily Caller by the FBI. However, elected officials do not address these events the same, according to Katelyn Greco, Program Analyst at the Citizens Crime Commission.

“I don’t think Congress has done enough. … When mass shootings occur, of course they’re heartbreaking, but I think about the 16- and 17-year-old kids that I work with that experience more routine gun fire, where they lose their best friends every day,” Greco told the Daily Caller. 

“And the [minors] watch the news, and they see all of this about the victims of mass shootings, which of course our hearts go out to them, but you don’t have that same concern for them or their friends or their best friends who they have lost,” she added. 

Greco said Congress focuses their efforts on mass shootings that are all over the news, but should also pay attention to gang-related shootings that impact minors across the U.S.

There were 5,338 juvenile gang killings 2010-2020 — over 530 per year — according to the FBI. (RELATED: Police Departments In Multiple Major Cities Won’t Say If Gang Violence Is Increasing)

WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 08: U.S. House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) speaks at a press conference following a Democratic caucus meeting, at the U.S. Capitol on June 08, 2022 in Washington, DC. Jeffries spoke on the importance of the January 6 committee hearings and the need to pass comprehensive gun control legislation. Jeffries was joined by (L-R) Gun Violence Prevention Task Force Chairman Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA), Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA) and Rep. Lucy McBath (D-CA).

Congress often focuses their energy on those mass shootings and tries to, you know, put their resources and create policies to address the mass shooting,” Greco said. “But they miss those routine shootings that happen daily in neighborhoods across the United States. There is not as much focus on those routine shootings because they do look different.”

Community gun violence can’t be handled the same way as a mass shooting, Greco noted.

“It’s different drivers, they occur more frequently and it deserves more attention because of the daily occurrence of it,” she said. (RELATED: Mass Shootings And Cases Of Gun Violence Are Skyrocketing In Part Because Of Gangs)

In response to the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, the House passed a bill that would raise the legal age to purchase semi-automatic rifles to 21 and ban magazines with a capacity greater than 15.

Greco said she believes there needs to be more response from elected officials at all levels when children fall victim to gang violence.

After mass shootings occur, you see the politicians going out into those communities that experience those mass shootings and trying to gain a sense of what’s happening and what’s going on. And I’m not saying it doesn’t happen on the gang related side. It does … but that’s how you create change: by going out into communities that are experiencing gang violence, routine gunfire, and seeing what’s happening, what’s driving it, and then using your power as an elected official to then create policy shifts or policy changes that actually address those needs,” she said. 

Recent victims of gang-related shootings have included children of all ages.

Draya Michelle Guillory, age 6, was killed in a drive-by shooting at her home in Lake Charles, Louisiana, on March 20, according to KPLC News.

Lamar Norman III, a 13-year-old boy, was shot multiple times and killed by an adult man outside an apartment complex on Dec. 27 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, according to Tulsa World.

Eight-year-old Arbrie Leigh Anthony was killed in a drive-by shooting when known gang members gunned her down in the front yard of her home in Augusta, Georgia, in Janunary, WJBF News reported.

Arbrie Anthony’s father, Arthur Anthony, told the Daily Caller he is not satisfied with the response government officials have had to gang violence.

I think they should be doing more. We do actually have a problem here,” Anthony said. “The police force is kind of short staffed. … There’s just too much crime.” Anthony noted that the Augusta Police Department had put out flyers for recruitment.

“I think after my daughter’s death they’re trying their best,” he added. 

Anthony said he “definitely” thinks national leaders need to step up the pressure on local district attorneys to uphold the law. Officials need to be “stricter in the streets” when it comes to preventing crime, he added.

At 17, [kids] get caught with a gun, they get a slap on the wrist; 18, slap on the wrist. And then finally you end up doing something tragic that could have been prevented when you first got caught,” he said.

Anthony urged members of high-crime communities to speak up to prevent gang violence.

“Report crime,” he said. “You see crime and no one wants to be a ‘snitch’ … but if you see crime that’s going on in your area, don’t be afraid to call. … I know it may not have [anything] to do with you directly, but don’t be afraid to report activity that you see [that is] suspicious or things like that, because it can affect someone else.”