PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — State and local leaders are doing their best to combat the growing issue of gun violence. On Thursday, they heard from community members in Philadelphia as they continue to search for a way to crack down on crime.
“I’ve been shot at the age of 15,” a Philadelphia man said. “I’ve shot people.”
There was raw, compelling testimony from a room full of community members and activists directly impacted by gun violence in Philadelphia.
The meeting was hosted by the Special Council on Gun Violence, established in August by Gov. Tom Wolf. It’s tasked with finding recommendations and solutions to gun violence throughout the commonwealth.
Philadelphia is seeing its share of gun violence on any given day. Dorothy Johnson-Speight, founder of Mothers in Charge — a group of women who have lost loved ones to gun violence — knows all too well the blood being shed on city streets.
“I, too, want to see the murders solved. We know we’re out there. Been there 16 tears, we know what’s going on. We need to have the input. And also the people and the young people, especially, who have been impacted by violence need to be at the table as well,” she said.
Sixteen-year-old Alayah Hampton was at the table, telling her story.
“How many more of us have to die before we all realize enough is enough?” Alayah said.
Alayah spoke candidly about living in fear of bullets not meant for her.
“They don’t care about your age, nothing, knowing you can just get shot and knowing that I live so far away from home that if I walk down the wrong block and I don’t notice and somebody sees that I’m not supposed to be there, then they pull out a gun — that’s my life,” she said.
Members of the council heard from various professions — from public safety to law enforcement to educators, victims’ services and grassroots organizations trying to make a change in their communities. All of them are hoping concrete change comes out of heartfelt stories of violence.
“Our hope is that we get information for all of us, Democrat, Republican, rural, urban, suburban can work together to reduce the level of gun violence across Pennsylvania,” state Sen. Anthony Williams said.
Thursday was the fifth and final session in a series of meetings held across the state.
State legislators are hoping to use the information they’ve gathered to implement an effective plan to combat gun violence.