WASHINGTON (DC News Now)—There is a renewed effort to find solutions to youth gun violence, after seven teens were shot in the District in 48 hours.
“The shootings are happening in a neighborhood, in front of people’s houses,” said Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Denise Krepp.
Krepp will hold a community meeting Wednesday night to discuss the juvenile shootings. She lives close to where a shooting happened Sunday that injured a teen.
There are agencies and organizations already working to prevent youth gun violence.
“It’s sad to say that I’ve started to become numb to a lot of the crime that’s happening because it happens so much,” said Dnayjah Joseph, co-founder of Guns Down Friday.
Joseph and her mother Jawanna Hardy started the organization in 2018, after a violent summer in the District.
“My mother and I felt like we needed to make a change in our community. It was a summer when we realized how many shootings were going on. And how many teens were killed,” said Joseph.
The organization aims to provide support to families who have, “lost children to homicide, suicide and mental illness,” as well as mobilize neighborhoods to find solutions to stop gun violence. Every Friday during the summer, Guns Down Friday visits neighborhoods in the District and Prince George’s County in its mobile trauma unit, bringing resources to kids and families. That includes books, grocery store gift cards and snack kits.
Year-round, Hardy also provides a safe space for kids and teens at her Guns Down Friday center, where she provides mentorship for those who need it.
“We need consistent people working with the kids,” said Joseph.
Joseph noted a main problem organizations like Guns Down Friday are dealing with, is how easily accessible guns are for kids.
“It’s so accessible to get guns and if (kids) see other people with guns they’re going to want to have one,” she said. “If someone in another neighborhood has a gun and you don’t, you feel like you’re not safe. You need to protect yourself.”
It’s an issue the Metropolitan Police Department is trying to address.
“MPD is doing everything it can to take guns and illegal guns off the street, but it seems like any time we turn around one of these weapons is turning up on these scenes,” said District Three Commander James Boteler, who responded to the scenes where two teens were shot Monday.
Joseph said it’s important to build trust with kids early on to keep them away from gun violence. That’s what Guns Down Friday is working to do.
“Building that connection gives you a relationship with them so they can tell you stuff before things even happen so you can try and mediate situations,” she said.
For more information on the organization, visit www.gunsdownfriday.com