Rep. Kinkead on solutions to this summer’s return and ramp up of gun violence in the Northside and throughout Pennsylvania.

Photo: Office of Rep. Kinkead

As the weather has warmed up and COVID-19 protocols are loosening, gun violence has returned to (and ramped up in) both the Northside and across Pennsylvania. Because I share the concerns so many of you have, on June 10th, I worked with state Sen. Wayne Fontana, state Rep. Jake Wheatley, Allegheny County Councilwoman Olivia Bennett, Pittsburgh City Councilman Bobby Wilson, and Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto in hosting what I hope will be the first of many “Northside United Against Gun Violence” events designed to highlight dedicated and innovative efforts to combat this ongoing public health crisis.

Over the course of three separate panels, more than a dozen speakers—including elected officials, law enforcement, violence “interrupters,” and city and community outreach workers, as well as business and civic leaders—offered detailed glimpses of what roles we can play in the fight. Together and separately, groups like Allegheny Health Network’s Center for Inclusion Health, the City of Pittsburgh’s Group Violence Intervention Unit, the Foundation of HOPE, Gunshot Reoccurring Injury Prevention Service, Infinite Lifestyle Solutions, the Neighborhood Resilience Project, Operation Better Block, and Reimagine Reentry are building more opportunities for our youth—our most vulnerable population—and for those who are returning to society after brushes with violence and the law. In addition to working to address post-gunshot trauma experienced by both individuals and neighborhoods, the collective efforts of these groups are stemming the spread of the disease of violence by addressing its root causes, not merely the symptoms.

As your state representative, I want every person in the district not only to be safe, but to feel safe. While I will continue every day to push for common sense gun policies like universal background checks, safe firearm storage, lost or stolen gun reporting requirements, and extreme risk protection orders, I believe that—at the state level—there has been a serious abdication when it comes to our responsibility to effectively address gun violence through decades of inaction. With that in mind, I am excited to partner with these and other local organizations to effectively end gun violence instead of allowing more guns to be readily available on our streets.

Dan Palka of AHN’s Center for Inclusion Health may have summarized it best in saying, “No one is separate from this issue, so it’s on each of us to learn what’s happening in our community and try to figure out a space in which we can be most effective in trying to ameliorate the violence in our community.”

This forum was only the first step toward true community collaboration to create a future free from gun violence. Look for more updates on my website, www.pahouse.com/kinkead, to get involved. I will be providing a list of available gun violence prevention and remediation resources and programs there, as well. You can also sign up for my weekly e-newsletter for ongoing information about all the work we are doing, delivered right to your inbox.For more information on how to view this forum, to express your thoughts on any state-related issue, or to request assistance with state-related services, you can reach out to my team and me by calling 412-321-5523 or by email at RepKinkead@pahouse.net. We’re here to help!

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