Around Amherst: Board may study if gun violence is a public health emergency

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Staff Writer
Published: 8/4/2022 9:04:56 PM
Modified: 8/4/2022 9:01:49 PM

AMHERST — The town’s Board of Health is again considering examining whether gun violence is a public health epidemic that should be addressed.

Last taking up the topic in 2016, Chairwoman Nancy Gilbert said at a meeting in July that she would like to again see health officials determine whether guns are a problem affecting Amherst.

“I think as a board we should educate ourselves because there’s so many people killed by violence and nonfatal firearm injuries,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert pointed to national data showing there have been 10,774 homicides and 12,870 suicides by guns this year, and that for children up to age 11, 186 have been killed and 404 injured by guns. There also have been 717 teens killed and 1,910 teens injured.

She would like the board to consider firearm awareness and identify factors that contribute to gun violence, monitor the problem in town, and determine risks and factors in gun violence.

Gilbert said she would need local statistics to define the problem.

When the board last broached the topic, it received a presentation from Police Chief Scott Livingstone with data, though at the time he indicated guns were not a major issue for his department.

“Every time you open up the newspaper or listen to the news on the radio you just hear about someone else being killed or injured, which is awful,” Gilbert said.

Health board member Maureen Millea said her concern is that state laws that have reduced gun violence may be challenged due to a recent Supreme Court decision.

Earl Miller, director of the Community Responders for Equity, Safety and Service department, said Massachusetts already has among the lowest gun suicide rate in the nation.

Thrive scholars

Students of color from disadvantaged communities across the country, including several from the Boston area, have been attending a six-week academic boot camp at Amherst College this summer, with an aim of helping them overcome systemic barriers so they can succeed at top colleges and in their careers.

Created by Thrive Scholars, the Summer Academy is designed to address the racial wealth gap by helping high-achieving students of color from disadvantaged backgrounds attain economic mobility in high-impact careers and become the diverse leaders that America needs.

Statistics provided by the organization show that only 11% of Americans born into poverty will ever earn a six-figure salary, and that for people of color the statistics are worse.

New AEF members

The Amherst Education Foundation, which raises money to provide grants for educational programs, recently announced that two board members are joining the organization as treasurer Rick Hood departs.

The new board members are Elizabeth LaRaia and Evan Naismith.

LaRaia, a clinical social worker with a private therapy practice based in Amherst, has three children who are attending Crocker Farm School.

Naismith, a legal studies major at UMass Amherst, has two children in the town’s public schools.

Cuppa Joe

Town Manager Paul Bockelman will be joined by Tony Maroulis, executive director of community and strategic initiatives at the University of Massachusetts, for a Cuppa Joe event at Black Sheep Deli on Main Street on Aug. 12 from 9:30 to 10:30 p.m.

Residents are invited to drop by to ask questions and comment on town and university affairs.

Strings at the Strong

The Amherst History Museum garden summer concert series, taking place in the 18th-century garden at the Strong House, begins at 2 p.m. Saturday.

For Strings at the Strong, people are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or a blanket to sit on.

The series kicks off with Bella Musica, a quintet of local musicians including Cindy Naughton on the flute, Steven Williams on the violin, Rebecca Phelps on the piano, Scott Halligan on the cello and Sarah Mahler Kraaz on the piano. They will play duets, trios and quartets from Quantz, Telemann and Handel.

Town Hall exhibit

Living Landscapes is the newest art exhibit featured at Town Hall.

Open during normal hours, the exhibit by local artist Rachel Loeffler includes 12 paintings with poems and prose, four of which are in the main entrance, two on the second floor and six along the main hallway.

Meetings

TUESDAY: Jones Library Budget Committee, 1 p.m., Local Historic District Commission, 3 p.m., and Public Shade Tree Committee, 5 p.m.


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