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They know how to solve gun violence.

Top StoriesThey know how to solve gun violence.

They called him Tree because he and his siblings had to fend for themselves. He was sent to Rikers Island for robbing and slinging drugs. He was the kind of person who could interrupt a conflict before it got out of hand. He was a hero because he was 6-foot-8. He tried to warn the young men in the building when he saw the man in the stairwell. The story is starting to sound familiar because it is. There is a funeral for someone like Tree happening every day. I was shocked when I found out that these people were victims of gun violence in their own communities. A shooting victim will never be one in a million. Every day, more than 100 people die from gun violence. I wrote about people who were killed with handguns because they are the weapons that kill the most. I was interested in people who were black and brown because they were the ones who died indisproportionate numbers. I knew they wouldn't give up and they were all the same. A 46-year-old grillmaster. The only thing different about his story is how it ends.

He has lived in the same apartment in New York for all of his life. At one point, the three-bedroom flat held 13 people, and sometimes a long line for the one bathroom. Tree and his sister are the only survivors of his mother's addiction to drugs and alcohol. Tree's father returned to his life after his mother died, and he was also HIV-positive. His older sister died in July from a heart attack. He tells me that it became: My daughter needs Pampers and this basketball isn't going to give me those.

He was sent to Rikers Island as a juvenile for robbing people at night. He tried to live a good life, but the lure of drugs was too great, and he was sent back to Rikers. He was released from prison in 2016 and came back to his hometown of Brownsville. He became the head of the household, taking care of his younger sister and the family cat. He called them his brothers and sisters, and he wanted to help the younger generation. I know that Tree would have been an easy argument for harsher punishment, but the men I wrote about this year knew all these things can be connected. Some of them devoted their lives to children because they could see how easy it was to get lost. Tree tells me that he tries to keep the kids on the right path. It used to be a safe place to go outside.

Tree was playing a game in the family apartment while he was not working. The man in the ski mask was standing in the stairwell when the exit door opened. He couldn't stop thinking about it as he walked away from the building. Tree told the young men to be careful while he was in the lobby. Tree was holding a bag and the man was holding a gun. Tree remembers that the bullet tore through his chest and exited his lower back as he fell down the stairs. His grandmother died the same day as he did. He told me where the bullet hit, and that his height might have saved him. The doctors referred to him as Wolverine, instead of Tree. Tree said that a lot of people who come in here get shot where they got shot at and don't make it.

A city has a lot of solutions.

When we talk about mass shootings, the majority of Americans support some form of gun safety measures. We go back to our little worlds until the next shooting. The people in the cities tell me that there is something we can do about it. She is also a co-chair of an initiative called Mayors Against Illegal Guns. She and her co-chairs are aware that no one is going to save them. Philadelphia is trying to get the power to pass its own firearms laws, which are not allowed by state law. The state Supreme Court hasn't decided which rights are more important. The cities and the states need a strategy and a focused approach to tackle the reasons why this is happening.

I went to Seattle to look for the spirit of a man who started his work as an activist calling for an end to school shootings and found an echo in the records of the state Legislature. Washington state passed an assault rifle ban after he died. The governor signed a law banning guns in public places two months after a man was killed by a single bullet in a city park. A federal judge stopped it from taking effect last week. A judge in Oregon ruled against a ballot measure that required permits, banned large-capacity magazines and created a firearms database. The Mayor wants to stop the illegal guns from entering his city. The FBI must destroy records of approved background checks within 24 hours and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives cannot release firearm trace data for use by cities. Scott tells me that the city has seen a 9% increase in illegal guns this year. Local governments and mayors won't be able to have a bigger impact on gun violence until Congress gets their heads out of their behinds.

The rates of homicides and suicides for children of color are much higher.

Lucas says that the biggest problem he has right now is that his city is on pace to reach near historic levels of gun homicides this year. The world is vastly different.

The gun tally is increasing. I think about the neighborhood heroes when I think about the percentage that expects it to get worse. Every shooting is different, even if it is the same tragedy. There is no single answer, that is why we have people like Tree.

Tree woke up after the shooting and visions of a gun pointed at him and he shuddered at the exit stairwell door he was forced to pass. Tree went back to work two weeks later, but only after looking for trouble and for the troubled. New York Mayor Eric Adams paid tribute to Tree on March 6. He wondered if the man in the ski mask was looking for revenge after hearing about the earlier shooting. Tree thinks that the suspect is a lost kid. I can look back and say that I gave people a chance to do right for themselves.

I do not agree with Tree that there is no village anymore. The wrong people have guns, Richard Donnell Hamilton told me in Indianapolis. In Seattle, he urged lawmakers to think about their children, and then he helped to get hundreds of people to sign on to a pact he called the Covenant.

The same way a man in the neighborhood taught Jose to play sports, he taught him to play sports because they keep you on the right path. God watches over me because of what I do for people.

Those stories came after their funerals and there is a funeral for someone like that in every big city in America. We are never going to get rid of guns. Changing things doesn't mean we should give up. It doesn't mean we can't teach or mentor people. It will take neighbors, family and friends to check and uphold our forgotten societal codes. The police department is a big part of helping us, but they should not carry the burden of our own societal ills that we have refused to attend to as a society. Scott says that real men don't just stand by and watch younger men, and people's families, and children get shot in this city and sit on the sidelines. Some people are trying to simplify what is happening with gun violence in the city by suggesting it has to be drugs and gangs. Basic human conflict can be saved if people who are credible with those people take action.

State laws, city laws, better education, resources and economic equity will all help. I asked Edd if he would tell me everything he could about his friend, because I knew it would be difficult. I could feel my own heart breaking when I heard that question, but I knew what he meant. Edd asked the best answer I could give, and I took a deep breath. It was the right place to start, because we have so many heroes. We must not give up hope, because only one of us can stop every shot.

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