From Sunday, August 6 to Monday, August 7, The City of Gainesville held a two-day-long summit on gun violence. The summit comes after a shooting near the University of Florida a week prior left two dead and one injured. This shooting was one of many that have occurred this year in the Gainesville area. Gainesville city leaders and over 400 members of the community attended to discuss the problem of gun violence and attempt to find a solution.
The summit was titled “Choose Peace: Gun Violence Must Cease” and was held at the Hilton University of Florida Conference Center.
Many activist organizations were present including Peaceful Paths, League of Women Voters, Moms Demand Action, and Children’s Trust of Alachua County.
On the first day at 6:00 pm, Gainesville Mayor pro-tem Desmon Duncan-Walker acted as a moderator for a youth discussion on gun violence. Many high school and college students spoke, raising their concerns about the growing amount of shootings in the community.
The second day's discussion was led by Mayor Harvey Ward. Ward said he can’t do anything about guns directly due to Florida laws preventing local governments from placing restrictions on firearms. Ward said a solution can come from building safer structures.
“We can use the infrastructure that already exists to step up and say we're going to do more. We're going to build around what we can't do and build safer structures for the people who depend on everybody in this room to live safely.”
A range of solutions were discussed from community policing to economic development. Commissioner Cynthia Chestnut discussed reviewing the city’s open container ordinance, which allows Gainesville citizens and visitors to carry open bottles of alcohol and freely drink in the streets.
Since its launch in April, Gainesville Public Information has reported on 14 shootings in Gainesville. These shootings have ranged in severity, with some being reports of shots fired. Eight of these shootings have resulted in injuries or deaths. Only time will tell if this summit yields any results in decreasing the magnitude of the shooting problem in Gainesville.