Making area safer goal of program

Stopping the gunshots in Steubenville has been a mission for law enforcement and community leaders for years now.

Finding a solution won’t come easily.

A first step was taken recently in the Jefferson County Courthouse when a group of people police believe are behind many of the shootings sat and listened to a presentation of Safe Neighborhoods, an initiative of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.

Steubenville is the fourth city in the state to receive the program aimed at stopping gunshots. It isn’t good that the city is on the list, but at least leaders realized help is needed.

The group in the courtroom sat attentively and listened as a doctor described what a bullet does to the human body, how a family mourns after the damage of a bullet, how many years can be spent in a far away federal prison because of a bullet and the combined efforts of all levels of law enforcement coming down hard on the person holding the gun that fired the bullet.

The program is modeled after a similar effort that saw a decrease in gun violence in other cities nationwide. It will be easy to measure – only watching if any of the eight reoffend by using a gun.

There will be those who say the program is doomed to fail. Frankly, there hasn’t been any unified effort to end the gun violence in the city. Something is better than nothing.

The group was urged to take the message of putting down the guns back to their friends and family.

Nobody wins in a gun fight. Two lives are lost but only one is dead. The other faces a life behind bars, never seeing their kids grow up. Two families are mourning, one at the funeral home and the other in a courtroom.

An important part of the effort to stop the gun violence was missing from the first meeting of Safe Neighborhoods. It was the people who live in the neighborhoods. They are the ones who look out the window when a shot is fired, many of whom claim to have seen nothing. They are the ones who hear the shooter bragging days after.

They are the ones who complain nothing is being done to keep the streets safe.

It will take everyone working together to slow the gun violence. Only a dreamer will say the shootings will stop forever. But the reality is that the day is coming when an innocent person, maybe a child, will meet one of those bullets fired. Then the community will be up in arms.

Safe Neighborhoods will continue its meetings in the future with a new group of gun violence suspects.

Maybe, with continued pressure and pleas for peace, those with guns will think twice, maybe more, about pulling that trigger.

One bullet can harm so many people.