Carama: Violent video games could be contributing to Lexington gun violence

Lexington, Ky.–One Lexington Director Richard Spaulding, who goes by the rap moniker “Devine Carama” in public appearances, recently called for stricter parental controls on kids’ devices in Lexington, saying that violent video games could be contributing to Lexington’s gun violence epidemic.

In real life, it’s not a video game, you can’t just push restart, and play again, when you use a firearm, and you shoot somebody, you could potentially take their life.

When we talk about parental controls on the devices that these young people have, not letting them play video games that glamorize this violence that they don’t quite understand. I think of things like that, I think of mentoring programs and other things that they can be involved in, so that they don’t focus on the gang life or the group life in order to fit in.

One Lexington Director Richard “Devine Carama” Spaulding, speaking to WTVQ about gun violence in Lexington

In a January 9 WTVQ segment, Spaulding said the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government’s One Lexington had been successful in reducing youth and young adult related homicides in the city by 50% from 24 in 2021 to 12 in 2022.

It’s worth noting that non-deadly shootings among youth under 30 were up, from 87 in 2021 to 90 in 2022, over the same time period, a statistic Spaulding did not cite in his interview.

According to WTVQ, Spaulding also “believes there needs to be a deeper understanding that firearms can be used for protection and self defense.”

There’s certain classes and registrations that you can take that equip you with the safe way to own and keep a firearm, but then if you’re going to have one in the house, right? You have to keep it in a lockbox.

One Lexington Director Richard “Devine Carama” Spaulding, speaking to WTVQ about gun violence in Lexington

Lexington broke local records for homicide rate and total number of homicides in 2022. 45 total people were killed and 136 people were injured by guns in Lexington last year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. Some of the shootings are not reflected in city crime data because they were done by the police or were ruled to be self-defense.

One Lexington was started by Mayor Linda Gorton in the summer of 2017 to coordinate activities addressing violent crime with public and private partners. Critics of the program say it is not adequately funded and does not do enough to address the root causes of violent crime, such as poverty and mental health.

One Lexington received $128,354 in one-time federal COVID relief grants for Fiscal Year 2023 under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to fund its “It Takes a Village” mentoring program, but it’s unclear if the program will continue to be funded once that one-time money goes away. The program’s total budget is $365,482 for Fiscal Year 2023, and would drop to $237,128 next fiscal year if a replacement for the federal funds is not found.

One Lexington FY 2023 budget

For comparison, Lexington’s local government also recently:

  • Used $750,000 of ARPA money on golf carts in FY22
  • Recently decided to spend $230,000 annually on new automatic license plate readers.
  • Approved $1.2 million just for the entrance of Town Branch Park.
  • Approved $39 million in Industrial Revenue Bonds to build a hotel in the Distillery District
ARPA Funding Items, FY23 Budget
FY23 Capital Project Summary, FY23 budget
“Investment board approves $39 million in bonds for hotel project,” WTVQ

Gorton, a Republican, has also been cautious speaking out on state-related gun control policies, which advocates say could also be contributing to the uptick in violence. Advocates have called for additional red flag laws and amendments to Kentucky’s existing permitless carry of firearms, but so far the Gorton administration has remained silent.

📸 Richard Spaulding, aka “Devine Carama” speaks to WTVQ about gun violence in Lexington. (WTVQ Screengrab)