Omaha Public Radio News
2:57 am
Fri September 12, 2008

Legislative Judiciary Committee seeks causes of and solutions to gun violence

Omaha, NE – The Nebraska Legislature's Judiciary Committee wants to know what's causing gun violence in Omaha and what solutions are available.

The Judiciary Committee met Friday in Omaha and heard testimony from Mayor Mike Fahey, City Councilmen, doctors, former lawmakers, and community advocates. Mayor Fahey told the committee that more than 800 guns were confiscated last year. 531 have been confiscated so far this year and 114 minors were caught with guns. Still, Mayor Fahey says a statewide effort is needed to curb gun violence.

Councilmen Frank Brown and Jim Suttle also testified. Brown says gun violence is at an epidemic proportion in Omaha, but it's not being treated as such. He says more jobs and opportunities are needed for people who otherwise would turn to violence.

Councilman Suttle says Omaha's gang problem isn't just limited to certain neighborhoods anymore. He says strengthening the middle class and bringing more manufacturing jobs to Omaha will help curb the gun violence.

Committee members also heard testimony from Creighton University Medical Center and Nebraska Medical Center doctors, who testified about the costs of treating patients with gunshot wounds. CUMC CEO Dr. Linda Ollis says 57 percent of the patients treated so far this year in the hospital's trauma center or emergency room were assault victims. She says two-thirds of those patients were 15 to 26 year olds and 80 percent were male.

Senator Brad Ashford, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, called the hearing.