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August  20, 2021

HOLYOKE — Shell casings from an assault rifle littered a Homestead Avenue property after shots were fired at a house and car.

A gunshot struck the windshield of a police cruiser on Commercial Street. The officer inside escaped injury.

Mayoral candidate Rebecca Lisi said recent incidents of gun violence in Holyoke highlight the need to determine whether the city is funding, training and setting policies properly to help make the Holyoke Police Department as effective as possible.

“Gun violence plagues the whole country, but in many cases it is preventable. In Holyoke, we must make sure that police budget funding is being effectively allocated to programs and trainings that will keep our residents and law enforcement officers safe,” said Lisi, a 14-year member of the City Council at large.

Lisi said such shots-fired incidents underscore how important it is that the City Council act on her order for a study of the Police Department. In an effort to obtain neutral, fact-based data and statistics, the city should contract for an independent assessment of the department’s structure, policies and practices, Lisi said.

Lisi’s order for the independent assessment of the Police Department is under discussion in the City Council Public Safety Committee. It’s unclear when that discussion will resume.

“We see that policing is changing,” Lisi said. “I think that we should know as citizens and policy makers that, really, the policies and practices and culture that’s guiding the police force (are) really serving the community.

Gun violence is the monster that attacks America from within.

Almost every day.

It’s hardly just Holyoke.

The numbers show that gun violence snatches lives and ruins families with a regularity that manages to be at once bewildering and numbing. It’s become a desensitization akin to night following day.

According to The Guardian newspaper, as of June 2021, it’s rare to go one day without a mass shooting in America.

It’s easy to see why: A study released in 2018 by the Switzerland-based Small Arms Survey found that the United States had over 393 million civilian-held legal and illicit firearms. (See below).

That’s more guns than there are U.S. citizens. (Population was over 328 million as of July 1, 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.)

People look to leaders not for just ‘thoughts and prayers’, but for answers. “Over the years, I have led the city with caring, informed and action-oriented decision-making,” Lisi said.

In 2020, Lisi helped arrange for the group, Moms Demand Action, to address the community on safe storage of guns and responsible firearm ownership. That was following an incident when a 5-year-old brought a loaded, semi-automatic handgun to his pre-school class at E.N. White School, where Lisi’s son is a student.

“Our law enforcement officers could do more community education on safe storage and normalizing the conversations that families need to have when children may be in a house with firearms,” said Lisi.

Lisi said that when she becomes mayor, she will also work with the Holyoke Police Department to hold gun buyback events twice a year. This at least will reduce the number of guns lying around homes, she said.

Gun buybacks work this way: Participants surrender as many firearms as they wish at the Police Station and in return receive cash or other compensation. 

The recovered guns are then destroyed.

“Gun buybacks and increased education are steps I will take as mayor to ease the nightmare of gun violence,” Lisi said. “I’ll find grants to fund such programs and work with community advocates.”

Here’s a summation of the gun control debate as worded by the Encyclopædia Britannica:

“Proponents of increased gun control in the United States argue that limiting access to guns will save lives and reduce crime; opponents insist that it would actually do the opposite by preventing law-abiding citizens from defending themselves against armed criminals.”

Lisi said she also supports subjecting private gun sales and sales at gun shows to background checks.

Lisi’s record of leadership in the race for mayor is unparalleled. Voters citywide have shown faith by entrusting her with seven straight two-year terms on the City Council.

For most of her time on the board, Lisi has been chairwoman of the Ordinance Committee, the City Council’s busiest committee.

The four pillars of Lisi’s campaign for mayor are education, economic development, being welcoming to newcomers and civic engagement.

Voters will narrow the field of candidates to the top two vote-getters in the preliminary election Sept. 21. Those two will square off on Election Day Nov. 2.

Vote for Lisi!


-The Small Arms Survey is a global centre of excellence whose mandate is to generate impartial, evidence-based, and policy-relevant knowledge on all aspects of small arms and armed violence. About half of the Survey’s team is based in Geneva. The Survey also has an office in Washington DC.

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