BUFFALO, N.Y. — Parents and grandparents are making a plea for peace after the deadliest June and July in the last decade. A total of 19 people were murdered in those two months alone, most from being shot.
"It's a problem. But what I can say is Buffalo police have taken more guns off the street this year so far than we did last year," said Buffalo Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood.
A Buffalo police department spokesperson says of the 39 homicides they're investigating, 31 of them involved guns. Now leaders are trying to staunch the bleeding.
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said, "There has been an increase in police patrol and presence in areas where we have seen spikes in violence. We've reached out to state and federal partners for assistance."
Tim Lauger, Ph.D., an associate professor of criminal justice at Niagara University, added, "You saturate high crime area with patrol officers, the latest research indicates that that does have a positive impact that crime will go down in those areas."
These officers can provide a first step toward ending the cycle of violence.
"Identify problem offenders, high likelihood offenders. They talk to them. They bring them in through a notification session,” Lauger suggested. “They warn them that if they continue to engage in gun violence, they will crack down on them. They will lock them and their buddies up. And then they follow through on those promises. If you communicate up front and they believe your threat, then ideally, you're reducing future crime. That's the ultimate goal.”
But advocates, like Paul McQuillen with New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, say, "More guns means more gun violence."
Hon. Penny Wolfgang, a retired state Supreme Court justice, added, “Having it is step one, using it is step two. And it's a slippery slope."
An attorney general's report from last year found that 74 percent of guns used in crimes came from out of state.
"We need to have universal checks where you can't buy a gun online,” McQuillen said. “You can't go to a gun show and buy a gun. You can't buy a gun out of the back of somebody's trunk or the back of a store.”
While New York gun laws have been strengthened in recent years, advocates say more needs to be done.
"What we need to do is let these individuals see that there are consequences for their actions,” McQuillen said. “All too often, a shooting takes place and there's nothing left behind but shells and victims.”
The judges presiding over these cases have a plea of their own.
"Parents, preachers, teachers, to make more of an effort to talk especially to the young people, to get young people to understand the dangers of possessing a gun, to understand the possibility of using it, the possibility of injuring innocent people and the possibility of ended up incarcerated for a long period of time just for having the gun without even having used it," said Wolfgang.