Residents in the city of Richmond are reeling from a recent shooting spree, including the murder of a 19-year-old. The city has had four homicides so far this year – all committed in public, all during the day. And there have been other daytime shootings. They’ve shocked city residents – because crimes like that are no longer the norm.
KALW’s criminal justice reporter Kyung-Jin Lee joined Holly Kernan in studio to talk about the crime drop in Richmond – and what other cities can learn from Richmond’s approach.
It may be hard to believe, but many residents of the city of Richmond now talk about rampant gun violence there as a thing of the past. Less than a decade ago, the city experienced the chaos of a violent crime wave. There were 29 murders in 2002, and that number rose to 47 in 2007 and 2009. For a city its size – just over 100,000 people – that was almost ten times the national average.
“If you disagree with background checks, the logical jump is you believe it’s okay for criminals and the dangerously mentally ill to buy guns,” explains Bay Area Congressman Mike Thompson, speaking about his own proposed legislation to limit access to firearms. Thompson’s not the only one to connect mental illness with violence. The country has heard similar statements from national figures across the political spectrum, including the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre, who has stated: “We have a mental health system in this country that has completely and totally collapsed. We have no national database of these lunatics."