WAYNESBORO, Ga. (WJBF)– Today is National Gun Violence Awareness Day, and the Waynesboro community is coming together for the start of a new movement.
Working closely with Burke County Sheriff’s Office and Police Department, Mayor Greg Carswell has personal reasons as to why gun violence awareness is the first big event to kick off his term.
So far, Burke County has had 3 shootings in 2017. Chief Lewis Blanchard said the gun, though, isn’t always the problem.
“It’s the individual, the culture, the societal change. The problem that the public is more afraid of than anything is the persons possessing guns with intent to harm,” Chief Lewis Blanchard said.
Mayor Greg Carswell and city council is teaming with the Waynesboro community Friday night at 6:30 to hold a press conference, prayer and proclamation on gun violence at City Hall in Waynesboro. This comes at a convenient time–Mayor Carswell said the number of shooting in 2017 is lower than past years, and he wants it to stay that way.
“Of course we hate when we have any shootings at all, but for us to have just three, that is very good, and it’s already June,” Mayor Carswell said.
He contributed that low number to law enforcement and the new sheriff, Alfonzo Williams.
Chief Lewis Blanchard said the county started a crime suppression team at the beginning of the year that has played a large part.
“They have confiscated many guns through January up until now through traffic stops and stuff like that. And when we say guns, the gun itself isn’t illegal; it’s just being possessed illegally,” Chief Blanchard said.
In the last month alone, the Sheriff’s Department has confiscated 7 weapons and made 12 felony drug arrests. Chief Blanchard said there’s always two victims in every shooting, and there’s always two families hurting.
“You never know where that shot or bullet is going to go. A lot of times, it goes to innocent victims. You may have known so-and-so was carrying a gun and not anything about it. Then, the next day you come home, and there was a shooting, and the bullet went through your wall and killed your daughter,” Chief Blanchard said.
For Mayor Carswell, it was his cousin.
“One of the young guys that was killed years ago, we’ve had a number of killings in the past of young people, was my cousin. And to see him in the hospital, lying, right before he passed, you see senseless violence that could have been avoided,” Mayor Carswell said.
Chief Blanchard said Friday night’s gun violence awareness event will have a positive impact on the Waynesboro community. He said the more attention a topic gets– the more lives are saved.