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Gun Violence: Public Health Crisis?


On Wednesday, November 15th, our evening event was a panel discussion at the "Maltz Museum" titled "Gun Violence: Public Health Crisis?" in which our friend, Mr. Jeffrey Allen, the Museum's Director of Education and Public Programs, acted as the moderator and the panelists were Dr. Kristen Conrad-Schnetz , Trauma Surgery/Critical Care Physician at "MetroHealth"; Ms. Andrea Martemus-Peters, Violence Injury Prevention Coordinator for the "Northern Ohio Trauma System"; and Mr. Duane Deskins, Chief of Prevention, Intervention and Opportunity for Youth and Young Adults for the City of Cleveland.

Concerning the matter of gun violence, the panelists indicated that they did believe that it had such a wide-range impact and affected the lives of so many people that it should be considered a public health crisis.

Dr. Conrad-Schnetz and Ms. Martemus-Peters spoke about what they had personally encountered while treating people suffering from gun shot wounds in trauma centers/emergency rooms and how they had come to view those that they treated not as good or bad people from troubled parts of the community but as people in need of help. While they didn't disregard the second amendment of the U.S. Constitution regarding the right to keep and bear arms, they believed that some steps should be taken to prevent firearms from falling into the wrong hands and favored more research into areas like which guns are deadlier than others and the accessibility of ammunition.

Along these lines, Mr. Deskins outlined a strategic plan put forth by the Mayor's office just a couple of weeks ago which addresses youth violence as a public health issue. Mr. Allen gave us a copy of the plan which contained a letter by Mr. Deskins which read in part, "this strategy, by definition, focuses on preventing violence before it occurs. Researchers in the fields of neuroscience, biology, and epigenetics have consistently identified unaddressed toxic stress from interpersonal violence and decades of on-going structural violence as the root, biological cause of the myriad of inter-generational adverse health, educational, economic, and behavioral problems including violence, faced by big-city urban poor, especially our youth and communities of color. These symptoms of toxic stress spread beyond the individual and can be seen on three levels: an incohesive social-cultural environment, a deteriorating built environment, and inadequate economic and employment environment. This strategy recognizes that preventing violence requires a synchronized strategy among partners, including public, private, community, business, health, faith, law enforcement and foundation leaders..."

We believe that the plan has a great deal of promise and invite our readers to look it over at

All of the panelists were quick to point out that while the crisis of gun violence is more predominant in low income communities, it is not confined there and it is an issue that everyone needs to be concerned about. What is particularly frightening is that our society has come to expect a certain amount of tragedy and is growing increasingly desensitized. Nevertheless, Mr. Deskins believed that if people would make a solid commitment to dealing constructively with this problem, then the rate of violence would go down just as the citizens of Slavic Village united to improve their community and the results are quite telling.

One thing that all of the panelist expressed support for was universal background checks for all prospective gun buyers. As it is now, a buyer would have to undergo such an examination in some circumstances but not in others. During the Q and A, one of the attendees, Mr. David Eggert, introduced himself and said that he was laying the ground work for a ballot initiative in Ohio that would require extensive background checks in all instances. He invited all of those who wanted more information and/or wanted to be a part of his effort to talk to him afterwards and quite a few people did.

We, ourselves, talked to Ms. Sharyna Cloud from the "Cleveland Peace Makers Alliance" whose mission is "to provide residents of Cleveland with caring, committed, and competent individuals equipped to offer crime mediation services to youth and young adults who are at risk of, victims of, and/or perpetrators of street violence."

We also chatted with Mr. Jeff Weiler who asked us to thank Ms. Margaret W. Wong for her support of the "Cleveland International Piano Competition" and, in turn, helped us adjust our iphone when it failed function properly.


Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC

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