Taking Back Our Neighborhood: Community crime meeting

By Anna Marie Hartman - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A group of concerned citizens met Thursday night to discuss ways to get illegal guns off streets.

At a crime forum in East Memphis, almost every person in the large crowd has been or knows a victim of crime.  People like Beverly Walker, whose son Ben who was murdered last year during an armed robbery.

"As Ben reached for his wallet, his killer fired a single .40 caliber round at point blank range," Walker said.

Walker told her story at the Citizen's Coalition forum on crime.

City and county leaders urged the crowd to accompany them to Nashville to convince state legislators that Tennessee needs tougher gun crime laws.

"It's because our state sentencing laws far too often results in serious offenders getting right back out on the street," Bill Gibbons, District Attorney General said.

The legislative wish list includes three laws expanding the list of what defines a violent felony, including raising aggravated robbery from a class B to a class A felony and tougher sentencing for crimes committed by three or more people.  

Experts said repeat offenders make up about 85 percent of the 50,000 people who check into the Shelby County jail each year.

"Violent criminals, particularly repeat offenders, need to be put in jail," Congressman Steve Cohen said.  "They're not going to get any better."

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