Nine shootings and four fatalities in Evanston in the last 12 months is a stark reality.

Chief of Police Richard Eddington says a recurrent theme in many of the shootings is an effort to resolve personal disputes. In the past, he said many of the disputes would have been resolved by pushing or shoving or a punch. Now, some kids and adults resort to guns. The escalation has devastating consequences for everyone involved.

Warrants have not been issued in connection with six of the incidents. Additional police work is still required in most of the incidents.

Not all of the shootings are by Evanston residents. But this community can play a role in reducing gun violence by intervening well before kids get guns. Providing interventions at the earliest ages and providing high quality early care and high quality pre-K educational experiences are critical. These measures have not only been shown to yield academic benefits, but have also resulted in reducing truancy, reducing crime and fostering higher rates of employment.

Providing our youth a sense of hope, a sense of opportunity, a sense that they will have a realistic opportunity to succeed in college and/or to have a career with a realistic opportunity for advancement is crucial. Our community and our schools need to continue their focus on this with strong vigor.

Reducing access to guns is another strategy. Households that have guns should keep them out of the hands of kids. Guns should not leave the house. Perhaps City Council needs to explore new ways to deter people both from carrying guns on Evanston’s streets and from allowing others to carry those guns on the streets.

Community members also need to assist in helping to solve crimes. Chief Eddington has indicated that several investigations are slowed down or stymied by the lack of witnesses talking or failing to come forward.

We should not let next year be a repeat of the last 12 months.