Does carrying a gun keep a person safer?

Toryon and Aniya, Stitchers Teen Council Co-Chairs in front outside the Stitchers Storefront Studio, June 2, 2016 for National Gun Violence Awareness Day or#wearorange. Photo Courtesy of Nicola Scevola, 2016

Story Stitchers youth will host a second video taped discussion in November at Kranzberg Arts Center’s Black Box Theater to reopen topics explored in last year’s discussion. Stitchers Teen Council Co-Chairs Aniya and Toryon, both seniors in high school, will lead guest high school youth from University City High School, McCluer High School, Central Visual and Performing Arts High School, and Cleveland NJROTC Academy in a closed-set, video-taped discussion on gun violence prevention and police/teen relations.

Teenagers, police and leaders including Rachel Smith, Chief Prosecutor in the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office, Lieutenant Colonel Ronnie L. Robinson, Deputy Chief of Police of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and Commander at the Bureau of Community Affairs, Lieutenant Perri Johnson, Commander Juvenile Division of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, Kristen Mueller, M.D., Emergency Medicine Physician at the Washington University School of Medicine, and Mary M. McKay, PhD , Dean and Professor of the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis will search for solutions to relevant topics including ways to curb youth gun crime, best practices for police-minority youth interaction, and ending the no snitching phenomenon.

Examples of questions prepared by Stitchers youth:

Last year we learned that a large number of crimes, almost have of them involve people under age 25. Young people in the city of St. Louis do have access to guns and the criminal activity amongst teenagers in the city is at a very high rate. Has anything changed over the last year?

Does carrying a gun keep a person safer?

How does education effect crime and gun violence?

What programs would best benefit the relationship between St. Louis police and youth in the highest crime age group, 15-25 years old?

Sometimes on the streets we feel judged by our appearance instead of our hearts. How can we be safe if we are suspected of a crime, even if we are innocent?

What are our rights when a police officer interacts with us? Is it legal to videotape an encounter with police with my phone?

How can St. Louis citizens work together to overcome the no snitching phenomenon? What are examples of cities that have done this successfully? 

How does a bullet affect the body?

What are concerns police have when approaching a group of African American youth? Help us understand your side? And what do we need to know and do to help create a friendly encounter?

With Missouri becoming a new stand your ground state, what can we do as citizens to assure our own safety?

How can we have a voice without being heard? If I know about a crime, and I tell, everyone and his Mama is going to know that it was me. How can teens feel safe to talk to police?

Are police in STL screened for mental health and racial bias during training?

Raise your hand if you know someone who took their own life with a gun? 

Raise your hand if you know someone who got killed due to gang gun violence.

This program is sponsored by the Institute for Public Health’s Gun Violence Initiative at Washington University in St. Louis, the Regional Arts Commission, the Kranzberg Arts Foundation and the Kranzberg Arts Center, the Steward Family Foundation, the Yvette and John Dubinsky Family Foundation, and Risa Zwerling and Mark S. Wrighton, Ph.D.

The 2015 discussion video may be viewed HERE. Story Stitchers encourages youth, teachers and parents to utilize this free resource.