OUR OPINION: Mayor, Chief are right — Vicksburg gun crime is a heart problem

Published 4:00 am Saturday, June 10, 2023

The news of Vicksburg’s sixth homicide of 2023 came across area newsdesks early Friday morning.

Knowing full well the number means shooting deaths have doubled when compared to all of 2022, Mayor George Flaggs Jr. and Vicksburg Police Chief Penny Jones responded in what some would consider an unlikely manner.

Instead of the usual vows to increase penalties and patrols, or threats to “shut down” crime-ridden neighborhoods, both said the following in their own way: You can’t stop people who don’t value human life.

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While it’s no solace to the loved ones of those lost to gun violence, it’s true that Vicksburg is lucky when it comes to the severity of gun violence. For example, Vicksburg has yet to experience a randomized mass shooting — we feel safe going to the grocery store, with little fear that someone will open fire on us in the cereal aisle. We can gather at events like high school graduations without worrying if a bad person with a gun is in the crowd.

The shootings that have happened here are heat-of-the-moment acts between small groups of individuals that simply go too far.

Unfortunately, taking things too far no longer means a black eye or bloody nose — crossing the wrong person could cost you your life.

Jones admitted to The Post that she can’t stop those kinds of shooting deaths. You can’t change someone’s heart when they value another person’s life so little.

Flaggs said the same, describing such acts as “senseless” while praising the city’s use of surveillance cameras in capturing images of suspects and providing officers with invaluable information to solve cases.

He also said something else that stuck with us: he wants Vicksburg to raise a generation of law-abiding citizens.

The Youth Development Center, which is well on its way to becoming a brick-and-mortar reality, is a great place to start.

But once again, this is a problem not even Mayor Flaggs can solve by himself. Vicksburg is better than being grounds for gun fights; our people deserve better.

Perhaps the issue at hand isn’t one of lawlessness or lack of enforcement or anything else. Perhaps it’s a matter of the heart. Either way, something needs to change.