HAMILTON: $20,000 Gun Buyback Initiated by Niagara Falls Woman Jill Shaw

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By: Ken Hamilton

A crying 19-year old Jada Kennedy crawled into her mother’s bedroom and uncontrollably wept. Less than an hour before, while gathered at a popular north-end Niagara Falls nightspot, a bullet had rushed within inches of her own head and then lodged itself into the head of a dear friend of hers. She was less than an armlength from him. It could have killed either of them. 

As it turned out, fate and the Trauma Center at the Erie County Medical Center had been good to both of them.

 Nonetheless, Jada was horrified. Notwithstanding that the stray slug could have taken her life; but instead, the chilling event was the year’s 10th tragedy that had befallen a close friend of hers.  Moreover, it was the 5th, she said, in the last 2 to 3 months. 

How can one person stand the shootings and the overdoses that were taking out her generation?

A bigger question: How can such a small city stand for such big crime events, and what can be done to reduce what many say is the worst homicide rate due to drug use and gun violence with which the city has been rocked with in recent history? Most importantly, what can any one individual do to take a major role in, at least, reducing the gun violence? 

How can you stand it?


Pictured is mother Jill Shaw (left) and daughter Jada Kennedy (right).


 Because much, if not most, of the gun violence and overdoses have taken place in Legislator Owen Steed’s Niagara County’s 4th Legislative District – the minority-majority district that former Legislator Renae Kimble had established and carved out to be a Black District, wherein the last redistricting in 2010 yielded a thin margin of 50.5% minority and 49.5% white, the problem shouldn’t be universally black, but it appears to be.

 As Black citizens, how can we stand for that? Someone has to take a stand and do something. It seems that the someone is Jada’s mother, Jill Shaw, whom herself, like the legendary Rose in Spanish Harlem, has grown in the streets and through the concrete, and apparently matured enough to take a bold stand to protect both the victims of gun violence and their young shooters. 

Shaw says that she believes that what is needed is a make-sense gun buyback program, one that provides better incentives to young people to turn in their weapons by paying more than the standard $100 per weapon. She says that some of the things that might be spiking the city’s gun homicide rate is the COVID19 pandemic and the accompanying unintentional consequences of unemployment and stimulus check payouts, giving idled young people the time and them money to purchase and use the guns in the first place. 

As a result, she has started a GoFundMe page in her attempts to raise $20,000 to be turned over to the Niagara Falls Police Department for that purpose.

 Initially, Shaw’s contention admittedly makes little sense to people like myself, who really don’t know “the streets”; that is, until she further explained that the stimulus checks have dried up, and that the guns may be worth less to the holder than the $500 that they’d get from the buyback.

 Shaw indicated that she doesn’t believe that the program would get all of the guns off the streets; but had it been done earlier; it would have gotten some of them. It might have even gotten the one that fired the bullet that almost grazed her daughter’s face, but did alter forever the life of a friend.

 Jada agrees with her mother, but she takes the solution into another realm, one of learning to love each other and of personal self-control.


This is the first in a series on ‘What African-Americans Think of Crime in Niagara Falls,’ wherin we will be interviewing all views of the inflicted people and those who are doing the inflicting. Identities will be protected.

 NOTES: According to research by Niagara Falls businessman Jeffery Flach, the estimated population for Niagara Falls in 2020 according to world population review is 47,606.  With 13 murders year-to-date our per capita (per 100,000) rate is 13/.47606 is 27.3. The same source cites Chicago’s population at 2,694,240 and their murders year-to-date as of 28 September at 576; resulting in their per capita rate per 100,000 is 21.38, actually lower than Niagara Falls’.


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