Officials call gun violence a ‘health epidemic’ in community

Metro Council hosts the final safe schools and communities meeting focused on addressing gun violence.
Metro Council hosts the final safe schools and communities meeting focused on addressing gun violence.
Published: Jun. 28, 2023 at 11:35 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Six ribbons positioned in front of Metro Council Chambers represents the six lives lost in the Covenant School shooting.

Several departments like Metro Health and the Mental Health Cooperative addressed gun violence Wednesday as a health epidemic in our community. This happened during the final safe school and communities meeting that focused on gun violence.

”We need to maintain the current level of funding for intervention while we also find funding for upstream prevention that can take years to see results,” said Dr. Gill Wright, Director of Health for Metro Public Health Department.

A representative with Sandy Hook Promise Foundation said their mission is to give students the tools to prevent gun violence before it happens. It’s been nearly 11 years since 20 people were shot and killed at the Connecticut elementary school.

”We have a suite of programs that we refer to as ‘Know the Signs.’ And under the know the signs suite of programs there are four programs that Sandy Hook Promise makes available to schools at no cost,” Aurora Vasquez, vice president of State Policy and Engagement, said.

Vazquez said those programs are in 166 schools throughout Tennessee, like the Say Something Anonymous Reporting System where students can report an issue whenever a classmate is at risk of harming themselves or others.

”But if they use the anonymous reporting we provide, there is a live human being on the other end of that texting of that incoming tip and real-time responses to help figure out the next immediate best steps,” Vasquez said.

The series of meetings started three weeks ago and so far there have been some tangible results. Jeff Syracuse, the chair of this committee, said Metro Council approved $6.5 million to improve radio systems for law enforcement and adding ballistic glass inside Metro Schools.

June 27 marked three months since The Covenant School shooting. On Thursday, the Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators will bring its statewide listening tour to Nashville ahead of the special session that’s Governor Bill Lee said he would call in August.