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Tampa police chief calls on community to help keep illegal guns off the streets

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Tampa Police Chief Mary O’Connor called on Tampa community members to help get guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them.

On Monday, the city saw two shootings in just two hours.

One person was killed and another seriously injured in a shooting on East Columbus Drive and Avenida Republica de Cuba.

“These were not random incidents and I’m here to say today that this can not continue,” O’Connor said.

As the chief was discussing details of the first shooting Monday, she got a call about another shooting incident nearby.

Investigators say a man was shot and killed on North 35th Street and East Chelsea Street.

In a Tuesday press conference, O’Connor and other community leaders said that people must be on the lookout for any inklings of violence or illegal gun possession, particularly on social media.

The Chief said too many felons in the city have firearms.

“We as a community have to keep guns out of the hands of those who should not have them to begin with,” O’Connor said.

Stanley Gray with the Urban League of Hillsborough County said the U.S. has become a nation of guns.

“I think there is a couple of systemic reasons,” Gray said. “One is, that people are starting to see in our nation that truly we are a gun nation and what I mean by that is the average gun owner owns seven weapon. People want immediate gratification. People aren’t willing to sit down and talk about a problem, they are willing to only act on a problem.”

He also blamed the violence on the rapidly rising cost of living.

“I think that’s driving the air of desperation,” Gray said. “It’s driving the hopelessness. I mean when you look at the lower middle class, when your gas is up twice, I mean a common denominator is my self pride is worth more than anything else because that’s the only thing I have.”

O’Connor said gun violence in the city has continued despite her officers’ best efforts.

Now, she wants to team up with local and state leaders to create a task force on gun violence.

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