Wharton's meeting location for tonight is changed

There's been a change of location for Memphis Mayor A C Wharton's first community meeting since taking over the seventh floor at City Hall.

The 5:30 p.m. meeting will now take place at Breath of Life Christian Church, located at 3795 Frayser-Raleigh Rd.

Wharton, who has been working on a plan to control gun violence, is hosting the community meeting following several high-profile crimes in the area, including four youth slayings.

Wharton said that he is "taking City Hall over to Raleigh and Frayser" and that he wants to hear from the community. Citizens will be able to ask questions and if answers aren't available on the spot, Wharton promises a written response.

Wharton will also talk about his gun crime reduction plan, including creating a gun offender registry similar to the registry system used for sex offenders, creating a special court for gun crimes and stiffer penalties for people selling illegal guns, especially to youngsters.

Wharton said the gun court, like the already established Shelby County Drug Court, would bring a carrot and stick approach that offers juveniles a path to a productive life but still has the threat of jail time.

The Drug Court began in 1997 as an alternative 12-month intensive program for nonviolent adult drug offenders. Criminal charges are dismissed upon successful completion of the program.

"We need to come up with the same thing when it comes to violence," said Wharton.

Wharton likened gun violence to a public health threat, one that everybody in the community should be talking about and working to vanquish. If the community could mobilize to fight gun violence the way it fights deadly infectious diseases - with public service campaigns, education and a daily drum beat of warnings - Wharton believes the city can conquer the epidemic of gun violence.

"When there is a Hepatitis outbreak we bring everybody in and you see how powerful that is," said Wharton.

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