By Sonia Essaibi
Special to the Reporter
At a community meeting held at the Lilla G.
Frederick Pilot Middle School last Wednesday the
question heard most was, "Where did the gun come
It's a non-rhetorical question that Citizens for
Safety are urging people to ask after every single
shooting since the majority of shootings in Boston
are with illegal guns.
Citizens for Safety's mission is to "focus on
the people who supply guns illegally to criminals
and youth to cut off the flood of crime guns at the
source." Through a string of new meetings, called
"Traffick Jams," the group, in conjunction with
neighborhood organizations, aims to help stem the
flow of illegal guns into Boston.
"We want to empower people with the tools they
need to carry the message of trafficking
that they can carry the message further," Nancy
Robinson, the executive director of Citizens for
Commissioner Ed Davis and Superintendent Paul
Joyce of the Boston Police Department, Jorge
Martinez, executive director of Project RIGHT,
Jennifer Hannaford of the Latent Print Unit of the
Boston Police Department, and John Rosenthal of
Stop Handgun Violence also spoke at the meeting,
which drew an audience of about 50.
Those who attended the meeting received what
Robinson called an "advocate's toolkit," with
meeting notes and pamphlets. Also included were
tips on writing petitions and reaching the media
through letters to the editor, press releases,
Op-Eds, and calling in on radio and television
Robinson said that by asking where the gun came
from after every shooting and urging others,
including elected officials, the media, and police,
to ask that same question, it will bring awareness
and a call to change the law.
"Our aim is to create a voice for the
grassroots, the people most affected, to organize
at the community level to use our power and our
voices to have as much influence on our law as the
NRA does," she said.
Robinson, Martinez and Rosenthal stressed that
contrary to popular belief some, not most, illegal
guns come from robberies. Rather, the number one
source of illegal guns is licensed gun dealers that
break the law.
Straw purchasers (those who buy guns for someone
else) and gun shows are two other major sources of
illegal guns. Lax federal laws make it easier for
illegal guns to go into the wrong hands, they
Martinez, who has been the director at Grove
Hall's Project RIGHT for 17 years, said that
illegal guns is an issue that can be tackled.
He wants people to see that, "we have problems
in the current laws and some solutions on that
table that they can already take."
Last Wednesday's meeting was the first of at
least four Traffick Jams that Citizens for Safety
will conduct in Boston neighborhoods this summer.
Because of the feedback Robinson received on
Wednesday, she said that at future meetings there
will be time set aside for people to start breaking
into groups based on what their concerns are.
"We're looking to Traffick Jam to roll out in
two phases, education outreach and an action group.
The working groups will be made up of people who
attended the workshops," she said. The groups, she
added, may focus on issues like raising awareness
of the risks associated with straw purchasing or
working with the legislature to tighten gun-related
Davis spoke about everyone working together to
stop the flow of illegal guns. "The key component
to any successful program is a robust partnership
with the community," Davis said to the audience.
Of the information presented at the workshop, he
said, "It's critically important that we get this
information out to you."
John Barbour, Project RIGHT's board president
and chair president of Quincy-Geneva Housing
Corporation, said that the meeting was a good first
"Grove Hall is a good area to begin
nationwide," he said, adding that more needs to
follow. "We could meet here every month and it
would be the same people
now it's for us to
carry the message to the greater community," he
said. "We'll act as ambassadors to our community to
disseminate the information."
The next Traffick Jam meeting will be held at
Bowdoin Street Health Center on June 26 from 6:30
p.m. to 8 p.m. For information, see
wheredidtheguncomefrom.com or call 617-233-5363.
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