Officials address efforts to get guns off Montgomery’s streets

Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 12:03 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Local and federal authorities spoke to the media on Thursday about their ongoing partnership to get guns off the streets of Montgomery.

The press conference came amid the recent uptick in the city’s gun violence. The point was emphasized by the tableful of confiscated firearms in front of the speakers.

“There are too many shootings in the city of Montgomery,” District Attorney Daryl Bailey told the room.

Interim Police Chief Ramona Harris said they’ve seized more than 100 firearms since June 25, not long after she assumed her current position following the resignation of the previous police chief, Ernest Finley.

Harris was joined by Bailey and Mayor Steven Reed, as well as representatives from the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. They said their continuing partnerships and conversations will be key in helping curb gun violence.

“What we’re doing was not working,” said Reed, emphasizing the need for changes across the board to make this happen.

Reed said this change needs to come through both partnerships with the DA’s office and other law enforcement agencies, as well as the court system, saying criminals with violent histories should not be “allowed to get back out as easily as they have been.”

“That cannot be tolerated. That cannot be sustained in this endowment,” he said.

Reed said he is hopeful this will happen but said it needs to start at the “neighborhood level.” The mayor said that means working with grassroots leaders and adding an office of violence prevention in the upcoming budget.

Harris said partnerships between local, state and federal authorities have always been procedural, but they want to maintain meetings and conversations to help each other reduce gun violence.

As for the weapons already on the streets, Bailey said those used for violence often come from local homes or may be stolen from unlocked vehicles. He emphasized the importance of not leaving weapons in cars and keeping those cars locked.

He also vowed to prosecute violent criminals to the “fullest extent of the law.” This includes recommending prosecution for those who put guns in the hands of violent offenders.

The district attorney described how task force officers work on firearms tracing, which can lead to federal prosecution in certain cases.

Harris also stressed the importance of citizen tips, saying that is how gun violence will be reduced.

Bailey said their combined efforts since Harris assumed command are “working as you can see,” regarding the table full of weapons confiscated other the last month.

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