handgun with six bullets on a table

Shots Fired: Understanding Gun Violence in Mansfield

This is the eighth installment in a nine-part series focused on gun violence and possible ideas to address this issue in Mansfield. These stories will run on consecutive days starting Oct. 9 and running through Oct. 16.

MANSFIELD — Gun violence is not just a problem in Mansfield, it’s one of America’s most prevalent issues.

According to the website www.teamenough.org, 316 people are shot daily across the country in instances of murder, assault, suicides, attempted suicides, and unintentional shootings.

Of those shootings, 106 end in death.

Like Mansfield, a number communities are searching for ways to stop the cycle of gun violence.

Nationwide, many have searched for strategies and initiatives to create safer communities and lower instances of gun violence. While almost everyone agrees that gun violence is a problem, there seems to be no consensus on how solve it.

According to a 2022 Gallup poll, over 57% of Americans think that stricter gun laws could substantially lower instances of gun violence, while 36% believe that the
laws are strict enough.

Political discord even exists within the walls of the U.S. Congress.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) believes the answer to a bad guy with a gun is “A good guy with a gun.”

He and others believe more law-abiding citizens carrying weapons would serve as a deterrent and decrease situations where people with bad intentions use weapons for fear that they could become victims.

Congress has been fighting for or against gun control, background checks and banning specific types of weapons for years.

While the debate rages in Washington D.C., there are literally wars going on in American communities, as local police departments and concerned citizens in the trenches, desperately seek to find peace in their streets.

Ohio ranks as 17th in the U.S. in overall gun violence according to www.everystat.org.

Historically, Dayton is among the most violent cities in the Buckeye state. Recently the city has begun an initiative to try to reduce gang-related violence in the community and help support those individuals that desire to make positive changes in their lives.

It is called the Community Initiative to Reduce Gun Violence (CIRGV), organized by the city’s Human Relation’s Council.

One of the bedrock principles of the organization is collaboration and community.

According to the group’s website the goal is “…to promote a neighborhood standard that openly values life and safety while denouncing gun violence.”

Like many urban cities, Dayton saw a substantial decrease in gun violence in 2021 due to the pandemic. However, the numbers are on the rise again.

Still, the CIRGV, law enforcement and concerned community members refuse to give up and continue to encourage neighborhood engagement in all things that promote peace in the community.

A common theme among city law enforcement, community leaders and everyday citizens is the importance of effective collaboration to create effective change within a community.

There is a need for various entities to unite and create a culture where the citizens and law enforcement can communicate in a way that is in the best interest of the community at-large.

In Mansfield there have been eight homicides committed with firearms in 2023, which already exceeds the total in the previous two years respectively.

Of those homicides, 7 of the 8 victims were Black males. All were between the ages of 15 and 36 years old. The majority of these crimes are still unsolved.

Those factors indicate a need for a unique collaboration according to Mark Cobb, pastor of the Providence Baptist Church.

“There must be a coming together between law enforcement, the community/ parents and the schools because so many of our youth are caught up in this violence, either directly or indirectly,” Cobb said.

“Our young people need to be hearing the same message at home, at school and while they
are out in the community.”

Working together to reach a common goal of peace should be an easy task– but it has proven to be a challenge for a variety of reasons.

As most citizens want to decrease gun violence in their neighborhoods, there is also the real issue of concern for their own safety while cooperating with the police.

“Many citizens see things violence happen and for their own personal reasons, don’t want to talk to us about what they saw,” said Mansfield Police Chief Keith Porch.

Community collaboration could be the gateway to unlock valuable communication lines among school officials, parents, community leaders and law enforcement.

As with any great challenge, there are obstacles that will arise and if the goal is to decrease gun violence, then there must me a commitment to consistency.

In this case a commitment to constant and regular collaboration among the stakeholders of the Mansfield community.

There are numerous programs and initiatives aimed at stopping or decreasing gun violence.

The key is making sure that the decision makers are people that represent various aspects of this community and are committed to the common goal of ongoing peace in all neighborhoods.

To support our work, please consider becoming a member of Richland Source by following this link.