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"The most concerning piece of this is the availability of guns, especially illegal guns," says Lansing mayor

Mayor Andy Schor, Lansing, Michigan
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
Mayor Andy Schor, Lansing, Michigan

Lansing officials are pledging to do more to curb gun violence in the capitol city.

“We are all standing here today united by one terrible problem: Gun violence,” said Mayor Andy Schor, as he lead off a conference on Lansing’s gun violence problem.

So far in 2021, 24 people have been killed in Lansing (five of those were not gun-related). That's three more homicides than in all of last year.

While there may be many factors involved in Lansing’s uptick in violence, interim Police Chief Ellery Sosebee is focused on one above others.

“Lansing doesn’t have a violence problem,” Sosebee told the audience, “It has a gun problem.”

Lansing police have seized 160 more firearms in 2021 (542) compared to 2020 (382).

Ingham County Sheriff Scott Wriggelsworth says gun violence is taking a greater toll on ‘people of color.’

“The vast majority of gun violence in this community is being committed by people of color against people-of-color,” says Wriggelsworth.

The Ingham County Sheriff places part of the blame on movements pushing to “defund”, “de-police”, “bond reform”, “police reform” and constant media coverage of negative law enforcement stories.

Schor agrees there are many factors involved, including the COVID-19 pandemic. He also says there are different approaches to address the problem.

“Whether you’re talking about community work with our youth...making sure those who are violent are not getting back on the street immediately,” Schor added, “we need to make sure people are safe.”

The mayor stresses the need to “get the guns off the street.”

Schor plans to propose an ordinance requiring city residents to report lost or stolen guns to police.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.