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This past weekend, another 31 people lost their lives in mass shooting incidents in the U.S., bringing the 2019 fatality toll to 273 with another 1,067 injured. Barring any future incidents before print, our country has experienced 255 mass shootings thus far this year – an average of more than 1 mass shooting per day.

Each time a mass shooting occurs, we hear policy makers talk about “thoughts and prayers” and blaming mental health instead of ineffective gun policy. While mental health no doubt plays a role, it is time for us to acknowledge that our current policies surrounding access to assault-style weapons (bump stocks, assault rifles, etc.) do nothing to deter them falling into the wrong hands and being used on our friends, neighbors, and children.

It is well past time that the federal government passed sensible legislation to deter gun violence, but in the wake of their inaction, it is left for states, local governments, and communities to take up the mantle to protect our citizens - and Helena is no different. Mass shootings can happen anywhere – from a garlic festival to a country music concert to a kindergarten classroom.

While our city has first-rate police and fire departments, along with first-responders who work tirelessly to take care of our community, these individuals are often called in after the fact – when the focus is on treatment, not prevention.

This is why, over the next few months, we will be working together to develop community-based proposals focusing on the prevention of gun violence in our city. We hope that by fostering an engaging and inclusive conversation, we will be able to proactively support our existing local resources while creating new, sensible community policies to aid in the fight against gun-related violence, including suicide and domestic abuse.

Anyone who would like to join in and participate in these conversations can visit HYAGV.org to be added to the interested parties list.

Kali Wicks, Helena City Commissioner

Rep. Moffie Funk, D-Helena, House District 82

Eddy Manning, Helena Youth Against Gun Violence

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