Police Commissioner William Evans said a gun buyback program and stepped up anti-gun efforts on the street are working: Boston Police are taking lots of guns out of circulation, 970 so far this year, compared to 667 in all of 2013.
But at a public meeting last night about a shooting in Lower Mills on Election Day, Evans said the extra work is like pushing back the tide: Guns keep coming into Boston from states where it's really easy to buy guns, such as Florida and the Carolinas.
Still, Evans said the anti-gun effort may be having an impact. Across the city, shootings are down this year - the latest BPD stats show 187 shootings compared to 222 in the same period last year. He said this comes despite an increase in shootings in East Boston and the district that covers downtown, the North End and Chinatown - because shootings in Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan have gone down significantly.
Evans added that gang-related shootings are down, although he added that domestic shootings appear on the increase. He said that one troubling trend is that the shooters seem to be getting younger - it's no longer just older teens and men in their 20s who are going around shooting up neighborhoods. "Unfortunately, a lot of young kids have guns," he said, adding he was talking about kids as young as 13.
The commissioner agreed with city councilors Ayanna Pressley (at large) and Charles Yancey (Dorchester), who also attended the meeting - called by state Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry and state Rep. Dan Cullinane - that police work alone will not dampen gun violence: The city needs to work harder to prevent kids from getting into guns to begin with.
Evans pointed to the success of a program this past summer, in which Mayor Walsh worked with the IBEW on a training program for 15 or 16 teens with violent records. All but one graduated the program and now have good jobs, he said.
Evans expressed frustration with the court system. He said too often, police arrest somebody on a gun charge who was out on bail on a gun charge.
He noted approvingly that London, which has a very low gun-violence rate, has a mandatory five-year sentence for gun convictions. Here, he said, too many kids see our 18-month sentence as "almost like a badge of courage."
"It's frustrating for us, we're getting the same kids all the time," he said, estimating that 5% of the teens and young adults in the city are causing 70% of the problems.