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Zeneta Everhart pushing to establish gun violence prevention office in Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Buffalo Common Councilwoman Zeneta Everhart is pushing for the City of Buffalo to establish a gun violence prevention office in order to combat gun violence at the local level.

The initiative is aimed to provide support for families that have been impacted by gun violence, implement evidence-based interventions, encourage community engagement and work with local law enforcement to address illegal gun trafficking in the city.

The initiative is in response to several incidents of gun violence in Buffalo in recent months and years, including the Tops mass shooting on May 14, 2022, a 14-year-old killed when she was among six teens shot on Jefferson Avenue this past May, and the death of a three-year-old on Domedion Avenue last month.

“Offices like this are already established across the country because of what happened on 5/14. We don’t have one, which is ridiculous,” Everhart said in a news conference on Monday. “This isn’t about law enforcement. This office is about making sure that if someone is shot on the street, their mother can get counseling so she’s not stressed out and not sleeping in the middle of the night. I know what that feels like.”

Everhart’s son, Zaire Goodman, was injured in the Tops mass shooting, but recovered.

There were three separate shootings within the city over this past weekend that left five people hurt.

“We have to protect our community. Not just from mass shootings, we have to protect our community from everyday shootings,” Everhart said.

In June, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy declared gun violence to be a public health crisis, driven by fast-growing numbers of injuries and deaths involving firearms across the country. Since last September, the U.S. Office of Justice has allocated $100 million to support gun violence prevention in cities across the country. Multiple large cities, including New York City, Los Angeles, Washington and New Orleans have established local offices to prevent gun violence.

If the office is established, the city will work with the White House, the state, Erie County and state and local law enforcement to support families and implement gun violence prevention strategies. Common Council president Chris Scanlon and Fillmore District councilmember Mitch Nowakowski are also working on the resolution.

“I am tired, I’m exhausted,” Everhart said. “I’m tired of hearing people talking about gun violence, I’m tired of it, I really am. You can’t say it enough. Our community deserves better and it starts in government.”

The resolution requests that the mayor establishes the office by the end of the calendar year.

You can view Monday’s news conference in the media player above.

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Aidan Joly joined the News 4 staff in 2022. He is a graduate of Canisius College. You can see more of his work here.

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