‘It’s going to take everybody having some type of skin in the game,’ community members address gun violence in the Midlands

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Published: Jul. 16, 2022 at 7:57 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - After a string of gun violence deaths directly impacting young people in the Midlands, people in the community are asking this big question, “What is motivating young people to use guns?”

The Richland Library hosted a community discussion panel about gun violence Saturday where law enforcement officials, mothers who have lost their to guns, and advocates were available to listen to these concerns and brainstorm ways together to make a change in the Midlands.

One of the speakers on the panel, Reverend Carey Grady says gun violence crimes have three root causes; poor education, lack of affordable housing, and people struggling to find meaningful employment.

“All across the country, gun violence is just out of control, so that means that what people have been working on is not working,” Reverend Carey Grady of Reid Chapel AME Church said.

The Richland Library opened its doors to the community, but also to mothers demanding action, like Roberta McKelvin.

“My only son, at the age of 21 was shot and killed, Nathaniel McKelvin III, Nate,” McKelvin said.

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Stricter gun laws, more activities for youth in the Midlands, and more mental health resources in schools were all a part of the discussion.

The moderator of the event was Kyle Greene, a man who found his purpose in the Midlands as an advocate for change after Trayvon Martin’s death. He says there isn’t one specific answer to tackle gun violence.

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“It’s going to take everybody having some type of skin in the game. We can’t just say if my kids are doing well, if my family is good, I don’t care about nobody else. That’s an old way of thinking,” Kyle Greene said.

Greene says there is power in numbers, so discussions like this are just the start.

Law enforcement officials also served on the panel, and say they know gun violence is an ongoing issue, with some repeat offenders serving their sentences and committing gun crimes when out of the prison system.

“I am not your enemy. I am only doing my job trying to enforce the law. I think what communities should do is start going downtown and talking to your lawmakers,” Richland County Deputy Joe White said.

Those in attendance agreed that each gun crime is different, but change will start with new laws and by working with each other, instead of against.

“We want to just see peace and prosperity in our communities so hopefully we can come up with some concrete solutions that we can try to implement and curb the gun violence,” Kyle Greene said.

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