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In the U.S., nearly 40,000 people died from guns in 2017. That’s according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Gun violence has become a normalized occurrence and the American Medical Association has called this issue “a public health crisis.” KUNR’s continuing coverage explores how Northern Nevada, including medical professionals, law enforcement and everyday citizens, are mitigating this ongoing threat.

Reno Gun Initiative Focuses On Reducing Firearm-Related Crimes

Photo of a handgun.
Alexa Ard

A federal grant for more than $650,000 is meant to help Northern Nevada law enforcement agencies prevent firearm-related crimes. KUNR’s Anh Gray talked with Detective Lieutenant Zach Thew with the Reno Police Department about the Reno Gun Initiative, which launched last year.   

As communities across the nation grapple with gun violence, the initiative was created to reduce firearm-related crimes by having federal, state and local agencies work together to share and analyze data that could help with investigations. Thew said it’s important to share intelligence because criminals often commit crimes in multiple jurisdictions. Gun-related crimes vary.   

“I’d say what we generally encounter are assaults with a deadly weapon. In other words, when someone were to point a firearm at you, it is very often the result of an argument, altercation, [or what] you may encounter in a robbery,” Thew explained. “We do get batteries, and that’s where someone is actually hit with gun fire and sustains a gunshot injury, but the majority of our crimes usually involve pointing the firearm or threatening or intimidating with the use of the firearm.”  

Incidences involving firearms sometimes don’t involve injured victims or yield witnesses initially.  

"A big gap that we’re trying to fill with the initiative is we would get instances where maybe guns were fired but nobody was hurt, maybe there were no witnesses or victims reported anything to us,” Thew said, “so not a lot of resources and attention necessarily went to those because there wasn’t a lot to follow up on.”  

Law enforcement agencies are making it a priority to investigate those types of cases, according to Thew, who said it’s also important to build a relationship with the community in order to work together to prevent gun violence.  

Since the Reno Gun Initiative launched, more than 60 people have been arrested for firearm-related crimes and more than 100 guns have been seized. That’s according to the City of Reno, which is also reporting that in 2018, Reno experienced a 13 percent reduction in violent crime involving firearms compared to the year before.

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