COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - A variety of ideas and possible solutions to the growing crime problem in Columbus are beginning to surface.
City leaders and about 200 community members joined together over the weekend to discuss violence in the community and what needs to be done to stop it.
One thing everyone could agree on is to get the guns off of the street. Muscogee County Sherriff Greg Countryman says his office is working on implementing a gun buyback program to do just that.
“If we’re going to help to interrupt gun violence, we have to think outside of the box,” said Countryman. “We have to be out of the box thinkers. And so the gun buyback program, some may frown on it, but if it takes one gun out of the hands of a person that doesn’t need it, then we’ve won.” I don’t think it was discontinued, I just think there were no efforts put towards it. Now that we are where we are, we see the pressing need for it. And so, that’s something I would love to be on the forefront of.”
The first step is getting community partners and getting the city on board. Zeph Baker, a Columbus resident, says gun buyback programs will reduce the availability of guns on the street.
“The basic principles of supply and demand support the idea that decreased rates of gun ownership will increase the difficulty or cost of the dangerous persons to obtain weapons,” said Baker. “And it also shifts the culture. Gun buybacks create an opportunity and an impetus for individuals to form coalitions and start dialogue.”
Citizens and city officials also believe the issue is bigger than just crime in the community. According to city leaders, poverty and unemployment are also factors that play a major role in the level of violence in Columbus.
“I think there needs to be more communication over the course of the next few weeks,” said Columbus resident Jennifer LeDenney. “I think they do need to go back to the drawing board with some of the recommendations from the citizens.”