May 20, 2019

VIDEO: Gun violence forum discusses St. Louis community issues

Thirty-eight years ago, Carl Wolf responded to a domestic violence call for a mother and son. Wolf, former Hazelwood police chief, remembered someone peak through the window as he pulled up to the house.

When Wolf entered the home, the mother went to the bedroom to get her son. Then Wolf heard a scream.

“Oh my God, he’s got a gun,” the mother yelled.

Wolf then starred down the barrel of a rifle.

Wolf convinced the young man to put the gun down. The son was arrested, charged and sent to court.

Duru Sakhrani, M.D., Mercy Hospital Pediatric Psychiatrist, discusses the relationship between mental health and gun violence. PHOTO BY DAN DUNCAN

Wolf told his story during the community forum on  gun violence to serve as an example of gun violence — especially within households.

More than 200 people gathered on Jan. 17 at the Central Reform Congregation in the Central West End to discuss gun violence in the St. Louis community.

Ray Hartmann, the publisher of St. Louis Magazine, moderated the forum. The panel was comprised of:

—State Rep. Jeanne Kirkton (D-Webster Groves).

—State Rep. Stacey Newman (D-Richmond Heights).

—Dr. Robert “Bo” Kennedy, St. Louis Children’s Hospital pediatrician.

—Dr. Duru Sakhrani, Mercy Hospital pediatric psychiatrist.

—Rabbi Susan Talve, Central Reform Congregation.

—Carl Wolf, former Hazelwood police chief.

During the forum, the panelists discussed law enforcement, educational awareness and mental health.

In wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Wolf said there is a need for an emergency training program called A.L.I.C.E (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate). Wolf also said school classrooms need locks on the inside of doors and a response plan in case a perpetrator comes on school grounds.

“I do believe in information where somebody comes in and gets on the loud speaker and says, ‘We have an intruder at a certain location in hall A.’ That way everybody in hall B can get out,” Wolf said.

 

Newman said she agrees with Obama’s initiatives to reduce gun violence. She filed a bill in the Missouri legislature which would require background checks on all gun sales. At the forum, Newman predicted her bill would not even make it to the floor of Legislature. She said the delay was in result to the Republican Party’s dominance within the Missouri House.

President Barack Obama said during his remarks on gun violence on Jan. 16, “We will make sure that mental health professionals know their options for reporting threats of violence, even as we acknowledge that someone with a mental illness is far more likely to be a victim of violent crime than the perpetrator.”

Sakhrani said in several cases when shootings occur, the shooter is suspected of being mentally ill. One out of four people will develop a mental illness in their lifetime.

Sakhrani said when government funds are low and budgets are cut, mental illness funding is the first to go.

“When an event happens, we have a tendency to find out if the person had a mental illness and we rush to judgment to say that the ‘perp’ was surely mentally ill,” Sakhrani said.

Sakhrani said the mentally ill have many resources to turn to.

Local institutions have put together funding in order to serve those without insurance. Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Washington University and SSM St. Joseph Health Center fund reserve beds for people without insurance, Sakrani said.

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