Registration has opened for the city of Gainesville’s first Gun Violence Prevention Summit, “Choose Peace: Gun Violence Must Cease.”
The free event is scheduled for Aug. 6-7 at the Hilton University of Florida Conference Center and is open to the public. The first day will run from 2 to 9 p.m. with check-in from 12:30 to 2 p.m.
The summit, intended to bring together multiple facets of the community to end gun violence, is split into two portions. The first day will focus on community input through a panel discussion, breakout sessions, a resource fair and a youth town hall. Community members who register online or by calling 352-393-8587 will receive a dinner.
On the second day, elected officials, thought leaders and field professionals will lay the groundwork for collaboration in local government preparedness and strategies. The workshop will be open to the public but will focus on the relationship between local government and experts.
The city will have mental health resources available for anyone who is emotionally or intellectually challenged by violent content or profane language brought up in the session materials.
In February, the city commission declared gun violence to be a public health crisis in Gainesville, with 170 shots fired in 2022, injuring 47 people. That declaration came with the initiative for a gun violence task force, expansion of gun violence prevention programs, and a letter to Alachua County recommending it pass a similar declaration.
Gainesville Mayor Harvey Ward and Commissioner Desmon Duncan-Walker, who created the crisis declaration and led a town hall on juvenile gun violence at the end of 2021, will anchor the gun violence prevention summit. Duncan-Walker will host the first day’s community workshop, and Ward will anchor the second day’s policy discussion.
When the city announced plans for the summit in May, Ward said gun violence was a “present and growing problem” with local consequences. The Gainesville Police Department (GPD) reported nine shooting deaths in 2022, and the count for 2023 was already to five shooting deaths when the city announced the summit.