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'Firearms are of plenty, but what you don’t find of plenty: affordable housing, food, quality education.'

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Posted at 5:57 PM, Feb 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-09 17:57:52-05

CINCINNATI — Tuesday, Cincinnati leaders received an update from the team tasked with coming up with ways to reduce the amount of gun violence involving children.

The Manager’s Advisory Group presented recommendations to City Council’s Public Safety and Governance Committee.

Assistant City Manager Sheryl Long and Black United Front’s Iris Roley are leading the team tapped to tackle the problem.

Last July, city council leaders asked them to come up with specific strategies after police say two teenagers shot and killed one another at Smale Riverfront Park. It happened during Fourth of July celebrations, and three people caught in the crossfire were hurt.

Roley proposed, “Is this our new normal? The state of Ohio makes it so that you don’t need to be certified to carry a weapon,” said Roley. “Firearms are of plenty, but what you don’t find of plenty: affordable housing, food, quality education.”

That year, a record 16 people under 18 were charged with murder or attempted murder, according to Hamilton County Juvenile Court.

“We need to be about that business of how do we reduce guns making their way into the inner city, into the hands of our babies,” Roley said Tuesday after presenting the recommendations to the council committee.

Tuesday, they told the city council committee that for six months, they’ve met weekly with community problem solvers to learn about gun access. Think: professors, gun safety trainers, police, judges, attorneys and health care workers.

They uncovered challenges like a lack of communication between community organizations that have the same goals.

“It’s gotten ahead of us,” said Long. “Hope is always out there, but at the end of the day, I want to be a realist and say that we’re going to do what we can to keep it as a focus, right, and keep on trying to address it, but it’s going to take more than just the city to do it. It’s going to take a community.”

The team's recommendations include: gun safety programs in schools, a council of children to represent Cincinnati, a citizen committee to ensure food, housing and job needs are met.

$200,000 will got toward mental health training for people like coaches and hair stylists who interact with children. $150,000 will go toward neighborhood non-profits that serve youth.

All proposals must be submitted electronically via the City’s Bonfire portal at this link.

“We build this society for the children,” said Roley. “They were born into it. They didn’t do this. We’ve allowed it to become what it is. So we should be about figuring out how to help them mitigate through what we have designed for them to live in.”