CNN stumbles onto good suggestions for fighting gun violence

CNN stumbles onto good suggestions for fighting gun violence
AP Photo/Ron Harris

By now, anyone who thinks CNN is an unbiased source for news is either deluding themselves or has been living under a rock for the last couple of decades.

Once billing itself as the most trusted name in news, CNN went over the partisan waterfall a while back.

Yet a piece today on how to combat gun violence actually stumbles onto a few different suggestions that don’t infringe on gun rights and might actually work.

I was 26 and working the graveyard shift at an emergency shelter for displaced youth. My cousin, then 28, was a maintenance worker at a local nonprofit. Together, we went on to create Inner City Innovators, a nonprofit with three initiatives.

One of them is our Hope Dealer mentoring program, which combines individual and peer-to-peer mentoring, leadership development, community service and social-emotional learning. We prioritize giving youth (13+) someone to talk to.

Our anti-violence workshops go into schools, community centers, anywhere with kids. We talk about how to reduce their chances of being victimized by gun violence.

In other words, this is a program that seeks to prevent violence, not by infringing on rights, but by trying to guide those most likely to become violent criminals in a better direction.

And more importantly, they don’t turn their backs on those who may have made an early mistake.

We also do court advocacy. A lot of young men get gun charges early on, at 15 or 16. Once they’re in that kind of trouble, no traditional mentoring program accepts them. We build partnerships with public defenders and judges working with juveniles to give these young men a second chance.

Any young man in our program gets help with job placement and therapy. If he is having trouble keeping food in the house, we fill up his refrigerator.

Our goal is simple: to keep every young man in our program free and alive through age 25. Most offending starts around 13, and 25 is when they say the brain is finished developing. We want to capture and stabilize them when this demographic is known to struggle the most.

That’s important because a lot of times, those who have an early hit on their record are those most in need of help getting back on the straight and narrow. Without it, they’ll likely keep on going down that deadly path.

What this program does is try to prevent that.

Does it work? Damned if I know. What I do know, though, is that it’s worth a try. Keeping kids from becoming violent criminals is a worthwhile effort. If it doesn’t work, try to figure out why and adjust fire as needed.

However, this isn’t the only suggestion that doesn’t boil down to gun control. In Kansas City, there’s an effort to look at affordable housing.

But gun reform cannot solve our violence problem alone. Good investment in housing and social services is essential to public safety. When people are housed and their needs are met, there’s less crime. These investments need to be embedded in candidate conversations about public safety.

In Kansas City, we continue to make historic progress in housing access. Funding from the new Kansas City Housing Trust Fund will create nearly 500 affordable housing units and a bond measure to go before voters next month, should it pass, will generate thousands of more affordable housing units. We’ve also launched Zero KC, a plan to end homelessness in our city in five years.

Now, the author of this, Mayor Quinton Lucas, also pushes gun control, it should be noted, as a solution to gun violence. However, this particular bit I quoted is an approach that doesn’t completely suck.

After all, many times, people turn to crime because they have a need that isn’t being met. They lack money for food, housing, or some other necessity. Few people knock over liquor stores so they can pay for their Netflix membership, after all.

The thing is, there are a lot of ways we can look at dealing with violent crime that don’t actually involve gun control. I get that many want to punish armed criminals more harshly or restrict guns to try and keep them out of their hands, but they also sometimes see ideas that have little or nothing to do with guns.

This is where we can often find some degree of common ground, if only we could actually stop trying to infringe on gun rights. That’s a path that doesn’t yield any results, as we’ve seen time and time again.

I’m glad CNN is looking at “gun violence” in a way that doesn’t automatically require gun control. Even if they only stumbled on it by accident.