Residents in high-crime areas fear a creeping sense of normalcy in Akron, which like other major U.S. cities is seeing a sharp uptick in teens and young adults killing each other with guns.
“I don’t know if there’s anything we can do. These kids are running wild,” said Stephanie, 72, of East Akron.
The Beacon Journal recently interviewed more than three dozen residents living or working in neighborhoods with the city’s highest concentrations of reported shootings, based on police data. The 38 Akron residents were not entirely without hope as they talked about the root causes of gun violence and the roles everyone should be playing to stop it.
At the city’s dangerous intersection of youths and guns, residents painted a nuanced picture of a problem decades in the making — a problem that’s evolved into something more sinister since the upheaval of social and economic structures during the pandemic. Their solutions attack the issue upstream with recreational opportunities, mentorships and other interventions to prevent the violence and downstream with familiar calls for stiffer criminal penalties, trying juveniles as adults and more, but better, policing.
No one who spoke to the Beacon Journal said any one solution is the fix. The conditions behind the past few years of record-high gun homicides could take decades to reset, they admitted.
Only first names given are used in this story as many residents requested anonymity to speak candidly about violent crime and the people who commit it in their community.
Residents say parenting, socioeconomic issues, easy access to guns among causes for violence
Parenting, the influence of social and other media, missing fathers, single mothers, housing and food insecurities, new jobs created too far away for people with no transportation, idolizing street life, poor conflict resolution skills and readily available firearms are contributing to heightened levels of gun violence in Akron and America, residents said.
Discriminatory policies that concentrated minorities and poverty have heavily shaped the geography of shootings today, according to national and local researchers whose heat maps of gun homicides overlay neatly on a century of other maps, starting with the red lines that prevented Blacks from buying homes in all but a few places in Akron.
The lax application of criminal justice and state gun laws, from the perspectives of local residents, seem only to aid and abet the shooters.
“If they bad enough to kill somebody, they bad enough to go to jail. So, they need to do something with the laws. And the gun laws is like the Wild Wild West, you know?” said Lance, a lifelong Akron resident and deacon at Antioch Baptist Church.
The Army veteran sees guns on his streets like those he used in the service. “It ain’t nothing but an M-16 rifle with a different name,” he said. “How can you legally have that? You ain’t hunting. That’s made to kill people.”
Lance, who thinks officials should crack down on alcohol sales in his neighborhood, has lived across the street from Lane Field since his home and a row of houses went up in the late 1990s and early 2000s to replace blight. He and other residents said things quieted with the investment of the new homes or the replacement of the Edgewood projects near the Akron Zoo.
But the violence returned, and this time it packs a deadlier punch. Guns now account for 90% of all homicides in Summit County, up from about 50% a decade ago.
As many children have been shot to death in the past four years as the previous nine.
Solution No. 1: Keep guns out of kids’ hands
“What’s happened in recent years is they don’t use these no more,” Lance said, holding up his fists, “because they figure, ‘I’ll just shoot somebody.’ And the guns are readily available.”
Nearly every resident who spoke to the Beacon Journal for this story said people have easier access to guns — not just handguns but long rifles that can be made to shoot rapidly. State lawmakers have made it harder for mayors and police chiefs to disrupt the flow of illegal guns at the local level.
Akron police were removing guns from the streets at a record pace until 2022 when a new state law did away with concealed carry permits. Police used the lack of those permits to make arrests.
“When we were growing up in this area, we didn’t have the issue of gun violence like Summit Lake has today,” said Allison, a lifelong resident of the area. “I just think it is so much easier for people to access guns now and people younger and younger are accessing guns and just shooting them without thinking of the consequences.”
Allison and others get a sense, which is reinforced by death certificate data and relentless headlines, that the shootings mostly involve minors. “And you just wonder where they are getting their guns from? … We need to identify the people who are buying guns and determine what they are using them for, even though I am sure a lot of these kids who are shooting are just taking the guns from their parents or from other kids who have guns and think it is cool to have one.”
“Get the guns out of the hands of the kids and you will kill 90% of the gun violence problem in this neighborhood,” said Mike, a Summit Lake convenience store owner.
Solution No. 2: Mentorship, role models
For some Akron residents, developing positive relationships is a way to decrease the probability of youths going down a violent, bullet-torn road. The lack of positive relationships or influences has negative consequences on teenagers.
“I think fostering relationships is a way to quell some of the gun-related incidents that happen in this neighborhood,” said a Summit Lake resident, who asked not to be named for personal safety reasons. “So many people are dealing with trauma and traumatic situations on their own and with no healthy outlets or people to talk to, the end result could be turning to guns and violence as a coping mechanism.
“These meaningful relationships with family, with teachers, with community people will help people to healthily cope so they are not on their own and drawn to unhealthy coping mechanisms which invite more trauma,” the Summit Lake resident noted. “This trauma leads to making more bad decisions and dealing with situations violently.”
Residents said gun violence, particularly at large gatherings, has had a chilling effect on their willingness to attend events that are meant to build community, give youths positive outlets and offer police opportunities to engage the people they serve outside of emergency situations. Some parents and grandparents said they won’t let their kids play in parks across the street.
“The kids need opportunity to grow, not grow in fear,” said William, a retired youth detention counselor who lives across from Lane Field in the Sherbondy Hill neighborhood.
Solution No. 3: Lights and cameras
Several houses the Beacon Journal visited had new doorbell cameras courtesy of a pilot program run by leadership on Akron City Council.
There were plenty of residents, though, who complained that the program was too narrow. Their ZIP codes, which are the worst for gun homicide rates and shootings, weren’t eligible.
The cameras are effective. One resident showed footage of a SUV speeding down an East Akron street. In the video footage, a pack of children can be seen running from the back porch into the street and unloading their assault rifles and handguns in the direction of the car.
Street lighting is the other low-hanging fruit for the city to address.
“The lights scare the darkness away,” said an elderly woman in East Akron, pointing to the shadows beneath a telephone pole.
“It’s been out,” her husband said. “It’s so dark.”
Solution No. 4: Tougher consequences for gun crimes
Some residents want to see harsher punishments for kids and adults involved in gun violence.
“The judicial system sucks. I’ve seen kids get arrested for guns and a couple days later they are right back out on the streets doing the same thing,” said Mike, the Summit Lake store owner. “Maybe if the judicial system was harder on them, there’d be less gun violence going on.”
“There’s got to be some consequences for the crimes,” Lance, the church deacon, said of youths and young adults who are back on the streets committing more crime. “That’s why they do what they do.”
Other residents want stiffer penalties for parents and guardians if children are caught with guns.
Stopping violence in Akron: City giving millions under new intervention program
“I think parents should be held accountable for what their kids are doing, then I think we will start seeing a change,” Summit Lake resident Marcus said. “If my 17-year-old gets caught with a gun and if police come to me and tell me they are going to press charges against me for what my child did, how many families do you think will start clamping down on their kids and know their whereabouts and what their kids have?”
Solution No. 5: Community policing and neighborhood substations
Chuck, a baseball coach and teacher at East Community Learning Center, said the city is littered with underused empty buildings that could be converted into police substations.
Copley Road, Kenmore Boulevard, Aster Avenue and Goodyear Boulevard are a few of the streets with vacant commercial storefronts the city could send police officers to every day.
Gun violence solutions: Addressing root causes of gun violence in Akron, other cities takes sustained effort
“They could walk beats on and around those streets and a small number of patrol cars could work out of those satellite offices as well,” said Chuck, who’s grown so tired of the current response structure that he’s stopped calling 911 when he hears gunfire in his West Hill neighborhood. “The same officers would work out of those buildings so that the people could get to know them and they could get to know the people who live there.”
Reach reporters Doug Livingston at email@example.com or 330-996-3792 or Anthony Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org or or on X, @athompsonABJ
This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Akron residents share ideas to end gun violence in their neighborhoods
free primogems get primo redeem code if you want hoyolab
ZEPETO Zems Farming Techniques: Unveiled
match masters guide tips tricks and strategies playoholic
Free TikTok Coins: The Game Changer
The Science of Gems Farming in Brawl Stars
dragon city hack cheats generator for free gems 2023
guide family island rubies generator hack 999k rubies gumroad
how to get free hay day diamonds quora
litmatch diamond hack download apk for android apkproz itpyv
myths of moonrise codes january 2023 free gifts gamer tweak
cryptocurrency full course simplilearn youtube
download evony mod apk unlimited money and gems 2022
dice dreams free rolls spins and coins the game reward
project makeover hack unlimited gems mod no verification issuu
beach buggy racing 2 mod free shopping apkwhale
TikTok Coin Hack Myths Debunked
Démystification de la récolte de pièces sur TikTok
Coin Master Free Spins Hack for Gaming Enthusiasts
Avakin Life Avacoins Hack: Boost Your Virtual Wealth for Free
Bingo Blitz Credits Hack Safety: Best Practices
How to Earn Spins in Coin Master: Step-by-Step Tutorial
every free genshin impact code primogems mora xp and more
How to Earn ZEPETO Zems: Step-by-Step Tutorial
hello guys are looking for match master free boosters coins
Unlimited TikTok Coins: Myth or Reality?
Maximize Your Brawl Stars Earnings with Free Gems
dragon city hack gems 2023 s nft collection nifty gateway
family island join the game for 300 free rubies facebook
hay day hack cheats free coins diamonds generator 2023
litmatch apk mod unlimited diamond v6 4 1 0 apkmody