OK, the emotional outrage that dominated the news cycle last week has ebbed.

Now comes the hard part: How do we create real meaning from that outrage?

We were all aghast about Chattanooga's violent final weekend of September: That seven women were shot in one incident is by at least one definition a mass shooting.

That there were four homicide deaths in about a week — two related to the Sept. 25 shooting at College Hills Courts — is appalling.

Emotional reactions from all quarters were expected, but now those calls to action must lead to results.

"That's exactly what I want to move toward, and I hope to hear commitments [to action]," Hamilton County Commissioner Warren Mackey, D-Lake Vista, said Monday about a meeting he has called with local leaders, clergy, citizens and anyone else concerned about the violence.

Mackey's get-together hopefully will get the ball rolling. It's set for 2 p.m. Tuesday at the Kingdom Center next to the Olivet Baptist Church.

Mackey's point that gun violence is a problem affecting all of us is hard to refute. There are no easy answers to the complex and socially deep questions of why so many people choose to point a gun at someone and pull the trigger to solve a problem.

Turning community emotion — and energy — into motion is a good start.

"We want to hear how county government can help all of those impacted by this," Mackey said. "There's a lot of hurt and a lot of need. This is more than just the city of Chattanooga — this is all of Hamilton County."

County government has more power and resources, he said. "We have to find the best ways county government can be involved."

If this is just the start, then it's a good one. But if this is anyone's finish line, then the talk will be cheap.

Mackey is right: This is a fight for all of our local leaders. Because for all the shiny new things downtown, bullets don't care about parking passes and 30-minute waits for an appletini at a nightspot.

And that this storm of bullets happened during the Ironman weekend should not be lost on any of the folks even tangentially connected to our tourism industry.

The city council will meet Tuesday, too, and while there are rumblings about examining a curfew, I surely hope there are more ideas in the hopper.

Because, simply put, the folks willing to pull a trigger are not going to be overly deterred by a 10 p.m. deadline.

Council members certainly have their hands full as they focus on finding our next police chief.

Our city needs a bona fide violent crime fighter, and if we have to money whip someone to come here to show us how to fix this, then so be it.

Because it's that important. For Chattanooga.

And for all of Hamilton County.

Contact Jay Greeson at

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Jay Greeson