RICHMOND, Va. -- One of the ways to reduce gun violence is simply making sure your firearms are secured and stored safely, according to police.
Richmond's Interim Police Chief Rick Edwards, Acting Deputy Chief Sybil El-Amin and community activist Charles Willis took part in a panel at Trinity Baptist Church to address gun violence trends officers are seeing and the potential solutions to the decades-old problem.
While homicides are up 33% from this time last year, the total number of people who have been shot is down, according to the city's website.
But just over the past month, multiple people have died from gunshot wounds in the River City.
In fact, a woman was killed after her husband allegedly shot her on Friday on the city's Southside.
The suspect was later fatally shot by officers in North Richmond after he allegedly pointed a gun at police, according to officials.
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And earlier in the month, a 13-year-old boy died in an accidental shooting.
"He didn’t realize there was one bullet still left in the chamber and he pointed it," Edwards said. "Had that gun been properly secured, that young man would no doubt would still be alive today."
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Edwards said one major cause of gun violence his officers are seeing is people getting into an argument that ends in gunfire "instead of fists."
And the chief pointed out that the fallout from those fights often impact more than just the intended targets.
“It’s one thing if they're just fighting. It’s another thing to go to their trunks and go get their guns," Edwards said. "And not only do they get shot, but what’s more frustrating to us is that innocent, uninvolved people are even being hit."
The trio also talked about the importance of guns being properly stored as police said stolen guns, or guns that are getting into the wrong hands, are a major problem.
"Take away the availability or the easy access — or heighten the responsibility of carrying a firearm," El-Amin said. "The accountability for those people who do have firearms — it's just not properly regulated."
Additionally, the city's top law enforcement officers said there needs to be accountability and responsibility. People need to be keep their guns secure, because many are stolen and end up in the wrong hands, officers said.
The panel said it is crucial for parents to be involved in their children’s lives, specifically what they are doing and who they are doing it with. The deputy chief encouraged parents to check their kids social media for any threats, signs of using weapons and also checking their rooms for guns.
“Making sure children are doing the right thing," El-Amin added. "Making sure children understand accountability and making sure they understand education is key."
While the chiefs said they do not believe gun violence will likely ever go away entirely, the vowed that officers are doing their best to reduce gun violence.
The group said they believe it starts with people stepping up to help stop it and taking accountability.
"Identify, address and arrest," Willis said. "Then we can help really decrease the violence when it comes to the gun use."
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