On Friday, six people were wounded – including a 5-year-old boy – when a gunman opened fire in a barbershop in Northeast Washington, D.C. This latest instance of gun violence in our nation’s capital highlights an alarming pattern of shootings involving children.
Firearms are the leading cause of death for children and teens in the District of Columbia. Black and brown children experience gun violence more than white children, in part due to deliberate policy decisions that created segregated neighborhoods and drove income inequality in Black and brown communities. Children and teens who live in cities are at a significantly higher risk of gun homicides and assaults compared to their peers in rural areas.
The District of Columbia has one of the highest rates of gun violence in the county. Barely three months into the year, several young people have been killed by gun violence in the city, and countless more have been impacted by shootings. Earlier this month, Malachi Lukes was shot and killed less than a week before his 14th birthday in Northwest D.C.. And two friends, Jaime Zelaya and Wilfredo Torres, 16 and 17 years old respectively, were both shot and killed in late February, also in Northwest Washington.
In D.C., volunteers with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America have advocated alongside local partners for increased funding for community-based intervention programs, including the D.C. Office of Neighborhood Safety and Cure the Streets. The Office of Neighborhood Safety provides funding for violence intervention organizations in Wards 6, 7, and 8 and operates the Pathways Program, which provides long-term and tailored support for the people at highest risk of involvement in gun violence in an effort to break the cycle of violence for those individuals. Cure the Streets uses the Cure Violence model, which employs street outreach workers who actively mediate conflicts and prevent retaliatory violence between those who are at risk of committing or becoming the victims of gun violence.
Volunteers with the Washington, D.C. chapter of Moms Demand Action have also called on Mayor Bowser and the D.C. City Council to:
- Create a Vision Zero for gun violence. Create a cross-agency Gun Violence Prevention Czar to oversee all efforts and re-form the community-based Task Force for Gun Violence Prevention.
- Empower D.C. agencies to address hot spots. Focus prevention and intervention efforts on communities hit hardest by gun violence, invest in proactive outreach, and repair security measures.
- Expand and improve trauma services. Expand funding, resources, and outreach for trauma services. Provide counseling services and adequate medical care for gunshot victims in Wards 7 and 8.
More information about gun violence in D.C. can be found here.