Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

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“Gun violence is everywhere:” Carbondale panel takes on recurring issue

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“One incident of gun violence is too many” was the message at a panel discussing gun violence in Carbondale and the nation at large.

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America organized the panel on Sept. 16 as a way for the speakers to directly communicate with an audience that was concerned.

“We’re not unique, gun violence is everywhere in the United States,” Carbondale City Council Member Clare Killman said.

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Others on the panel were Chief of Police Stan Reno, Deputy Antony Williams, mental health counselor Dan Selock, City Council Member Ginger Rye-Sanders and Reverend Joseph A. Brown. They were asked a series of questions crafted by the community.

“I’m here because this is nothing new,” Brown said when discussing gun violence.

Moms Demand Action and Cervantes gave out gun locks free of charge. They had a booth set up with information to further educate the community in taking precautions to avoid violence.

Jane Otte, a spokesperson for Moms Demand Action, described what the organization does to assist communities in educating themselves about gun safety.

“We do a Be Smart program, which is an adult program about gun safety in the home. The purpose of that is to bring people together so we normalize the conversation about guns in the home and how to safely secure them.”

When Jackson County State’s Attorney Joe Cervantes was asked in an ealier interview if Carbondale was actually as violent as people portrayed it to be, he answered “absolutely not.”

Reno was posed the same question as Cervantes and provided a very detailed message.

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“Perceptions can, often times, be influenced by various factors, including media coverage, personal experiences and societal discourse,” Reno said. “Public perception may sometimes be worse than the actual statistical reality, however, it is important to remember that even one incident of gun violence is too many and the impact it has on those affected is immeasurable.”

Cervantes said the four main causes of gun violence are: unemployed adults with low education, domestic violence and aggravated domestic battery, violence with the sale of cannabis and repeat offenders who are already in the system.

Cervantes said the people on the panel are trying to stop gun violence and stay in contact with the community to make changes.

“The panel is just another way for me to talk to the community. There’s a lot of people working hard everyday to make sure that violence doesn’t happen again and we forget about that part,” he said.

The panel also discussed the mental health crisis occurring with gun violence. The police have gathered mental health advocates to go with them when they have to confront someone with a gun.

“There has to be a desire to look at the mental health aspect of gun violence,” Selock said.

The panel talked about the importance of communication with the community, the city counsel and the university.

Rye-Sanders said, “Together we can make a change.”

Williams noted the work the local police department does with the university police.

“SIU has always been there and vise versa,” he said.

Both departments work together closely to patrol and protect students. The Carbondale police department had officers patrolling campus when they had enough staff.

They are still continuing to try to improve the way they communicate and work together, as well as working with the community.

“It’s our responsibility to work to reduce the actual instances of gun violence while also working to provide accurate information and engage the community to bridge the gap between perception and reality,” Reno said. “We have to work together to provide safety for everyone.”

(Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story listed Joe Cervantes as attending the panel. He was interviewed before hand.)

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    Robert DeFilippisSep 19, 2023 at 6:23 pm

    Cervantes didn’t show, so how did he make all these comments? I was in the second row, and I can attest to the fact that he wasn’t there. This is shoddy reporting.

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    • A

      Annie HammockSep 20, 2023 at 12:20 pm

      We’ve corrected our story to reflect that Mr. Cervantes was interviewed prior to the panel discussion.

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