Metro chamber of commerce takes stand on gun violence

Greater Louisville Inc. leaders said its members are seeing a negative impact on customers and recruiting after multiple gun violence incidents downtown.
Published: Jun. 6, 2023 at 5:39 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Almost two months after mass shootings at Old National Bank and Chickasaw Park, Greater Louisville Inc. (GLI) is preparing to lobby for solutions to gun violence.

A public letter from GLI President Sarah Davasher-Wisdom announced the results of a survey of GLI members in which “over 82 percent of respondents said that GLI should engage in advocacy on policies related to gun violence reduction.”

“While there was slight division on some specific policies,” Davasher-Wisdom said in the letter, “these results and in-depth conversations with our Board of Directors show that there is broad consensus for GLI to support common sense and bi-partisan solutions to prioritize safety for everyone in our community.”

Louisville is in what appears to be a fourth straight year of triple-digit homicides.

GLI leaders said its members are seeing a negative impact on customers and recruiting.

“It’s impacting workforce that maybe doesn’t want to come into a part of the city where they have seen this type of violence taking place,” GLI Executive VP Rebecca Wood said. “It’s affecting tourism. It’s affecting talent attraction. And so, it’s a very wide berth that has to be considered from multiple angles.”

It is a significant course adjustment by an organization focused on business and the economy.

A 2022 article from Harvard Medical School revealed the hidden costs of gun violence on workforce and spending. It showed substantial increases in physical and mental health problems for shooting survivors and their families resulting in costs of thousands of dollars a month.

The numbers do not consider the corrosive affect gun violence has on public confidence, affecting business owners and customers alike.

“Whether that I have to shut my doors because there was gun violence that’s close to my retail location today, or if it’s just keeping citizens from coming downtown and partaking in things,” Wood said, “there’s a huge economic impact that has to be considered due to gun violence like we’ve seen at Old National Bank and Chickasaw Park.”

GLI leaders expect to soon announce policy solutions that it will lobby for locally and in the state legislature.