‘Tempers are easily flared’: City council members respond to rise in gun violence across San Antonio

Three city council members responding to wave of gun violence

SAN ANTONIO – The recent wave of gun violence continues across the San Antonio area. From gun lock giveaways to getting more awareness in neighborhoods, many city leaders are looking for any possible solution to the problem.

“Tempers are easily flared and people are making choices with guns that have lifelong consequences,” said Phyllis Viagran, District 3 councilwoman.

Councilwoman Viagran is one of the many city leaders hearing the outcry from people who live and work in her district about the rise in gun violence.

“What we’re seeing now is if we look at the stats, is that these, these offenders are younger,” said Viagran. “We need to start younger, making sure that they understand that if they have conflict, this isn’t the answer.”

In an effort to help curb gun violence, District 3 is giving away gun locks for free throughout June at the field office.

“If someone is frustrated and a gun is there, and it’s locked and secured, they have to think a little more before they can just grab it and be rash,” said Viagran.

Getting people to think before they act is what Stand Up SA is trying to accomplish.

The Metro Health program was formed in 2015. It is built on the evidence-based model for community gun violence intervention developed by Cure Violence Global. This model treats gun violence like a contagious disease.

Team members detect and interrupt violent situations by raising awareness and speaking to people about resolving issues without guns.

From Oct. 1, 2021, to Sept. 30, 2022, the team interrupted 107 violent events, according to the latest data from San Antonio Metro Health.

“In order to see meaningful results, we’re going to have to invest in the long haul. So, that looks like scaling up Stand Up SA to ensure that we have folks out there at all times of the day and all throughout the city, not just in District 5,” said Teri Castillo, District 5 councilwoman. “This is a national model that we’ve seen in different cities that have dropped down violent crime in neighborhoods. We’re having conversations about what does that look like in San Antonio. We have studies from 2018 that have highlighted that investing in programs like this drastically decrease violent crime in our neighborhoods.”

The team works mostly in the near West and East sides, two areas that have historically experienced higher rates of gun violence, but Castillo said the program needs more support.

“We’re working with limited resources when it comes to supporting Stand Up SA and absolutely scaling up, would see a more drastic impact,” said Castillo. “Our office is currently having the conversation about a youth summit around public health and safety. We want to ensure that community has an understanding of the resources that are available.”

District 2 Councilman Jalen McKee-Rodriguez believes more community-based programs can help get to the root of the problem.

“Stand Up SA does amazing work on the East Side and throughout District 2. Work like that is critical and important. Our city should be focused on as much as we can to prevent crime. That means investing in an Office of Crime and Recidivism Prevention, resources like Stand Up SA and Big Mama’s Safe House and other community-based solutions,” said McKee-Rodriguez. “A lot of the violence that we’ve seen are acts of retaliation. It’s very targeted.”

About the Authors

RJ Marquez is the traffic anchor/reporter for KSAT’s Good Morning San Antonio. He also fills in as a news anchor and has covered stories from breaking news and Fiesta to Spurs championships and high school sports. RJ started at KSAT in 2010. He is proud to serve our viewers and be a part of the culture and community that makes San Antonio great.

Luis Cienfuegos is a photographer at KSAT 12.

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