MUSKGEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. — In the wake of Wednesday's deadly shooting on US-31 that police say is tied to gang violence, FOX 17 looked into what's being done to prevent this situation from repeating. While area police agencies declined to talk about their efforts, one local nonprofit explained what is happening in Muskegon.
Gaining Unity through Non-violent Solutions, or G.U.N.S., has been working with kids, teens and young adults across the Muskegon area to find other ways to resolve disputes besides pulling a trigger.
“I love Muskegon,” said Pam Smith, the founder of G.U.N.S. "Whenever you hear of one shooting in one community, it impacts all of our communities.”
“And recognizing that this current state of gun violence is not what we want.”
Smith, who grew up in Muskegon Heights before leaving for her undergrad, graduate, and doctorate degrees, returned when her professional career ended. She decided she needed to do some work for her hometown.
“I think even as we end our professional careers...it’s important that we stay involved in our communities.”
Along with advocating against gun violence with teens, Smith has led several service projects to help restore areas of Muskegon, the Heights, and Roosevelt Park. The latest, a fresh coat of paint at Muskegon Heights Academy's football field.
But the issue of keeping guns out of the hands of kids remains her top priority.
“The problem now is weapons on the street, right? We want to teach our preteens, our teens, at an early age, that this is not the way you want to go,” said Smith. “You want to start early with that message.”
“I think even though violence continues, and it continues throughout the country.. death by guns in Muskegon Heights is down considerably than where it was just as early as 2015.”