Skip to content
Black Stories

Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard: Roll Up Your Sleeves and Get Involved

Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard wearing an orange ribbon in front of a Wear Orange backdrop

Black Courage in the Gun Violence Prevention Movement

Courageous leaders must be willing to be innovative and support evidence-backed efforts at reducing gun violence: Prevention, intervention, education, diversion, enforcement, and restorative justice efforts are key to being a leader in the gun violence prevention movement.

As a social worker for 20 years, I am inspired by the courage and resilience to fight addiction, injustice, and traumas that my former clients displayed on a daily basis. And now, as the mayor of Mount Vernon, New York, their strength and courage motivates my work, especially when it comes to reducing gun violence.

Effectively reducing gun violence necessitates engaging all sectors, and I unapologetically serve as the chief convener that brings community leaders together. And being a part of Mayors Against Illegal Guns means that I’m connected with courageous leaders from across the country to share what has worked and how they’re keeping their communities safe.


In New York, Black people are 2.6x more likely than white people to die by guns.

Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, “EveryStat for Gun Safety,” accessed February 3, 2023,


In New York, Black people are 16x more likely than white people to die by gun homicide.

Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, “EveryStat for Gun Safety,” accessed February 3, 2023,

The City of Mount Vernon has adopted a public health model for gun violence prevention—we work closely with the SNUG program, a public health and messaging approach to violence prevention and response. We work with those most likely to shoot or be shot as we work to change the culture and mindset around gun violence.

Our police force’s violent crimes unit and local Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms continue to remove illegal guns from the streets of Mount Vernon, working with the FBI Safe Streets task force to close out gun-related incidents. Our priority remains to enact stronger legislation to reduce interstate gun trafficking.

We are also participating in a Cities United cohort on developing community-based strategies to reduce violence, working with local partners as we learn from 11 other cities around the country.

Ultimately, advocating for gun safety starts in the home with secure gun storage. Storing guns unloaded, locked, and separate from ammunition can save lives. The best advocates we have are people who roll up their sleeves and get involved in community-centered activities. I encourage anyone interested in advocating for gun safety to join groups like Moms Demand Action and work with their local SNUG programs. It will require all of us having the courage to show up and do things differently for us to end our country’s gun violence epidemic.

Join Moms Demand Action

Moms Demand Action is a grassroots movement of Americans fighting for public safety measures that can protect people from gun violence. We have volunteer chapters in every state of the country and Washington, D.C.

Learn More

Black History Month

This Black History Month, we hold space for the Black survivors of gun violence and recognize the gun safety advocates leading the charge at all levels to keep our communities safe. We know that we still have a long way to go to end gun violence—particularly its impact on the Black community, and we’re holding space for survivors of gun violence and Black advocates to continue to effect positive change. We are continuously working to stop gun violence through both grassroots and national channels, as we focus on and elevate the work and successes of the many Black voices who have helped progress the gun violence prevention movement and keep their communities—and the country—safe.

The Latest