Source AP/Jessica Hill

I don’t own a gun (I had a pellet gun for 2 days), and probably never will, but I do support the “Right to Bear Arms“. Like most Americans, I have been watching senseless gun violence rear it’s ugly head for far too long. I remember the horror of Columbine, sitting in front of the TV with tears rolling down my cheeks. That was the first time I can honestly say that I started to realize that the times had changed and in many ways they changed for the worst. As a parent, I remember holding my kids a helluva lot tighter that night. I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t stay appalled for long enough, as the days went by I became more and more apathetic and every tragic shooting since has hurt and angered me but because it never hit home (Thank God), it did little more than elicit the same tired platitudes and arguments over drinks about “What this country was coming to” and “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people”. I think I, like many Americans drank the Kool-Aid the NRA was pushing and after the media stopped talking about it, we did too. I’m ashamed that it had to take the tragedy at Newtown to shake us out of our complacency. It’s horrible that it had to take those 26 innocent angels to open our eyes, not only about Gun Control, but also Mental Health issues and the sickening realization that money has so corrupted our political system that even the most common sense solutions can bring about such divisive and volatile attacks on each other. This is NOT an attack on the Constitution, this is an attack on senseless gun violence and horrific loss.

I agree with all of the recommendations that President Obama put forth but I also have to bring up psychotropic drugs. My friend Richard Lemire  and I are usually on opposite sides of the political fence, but I enjoy hearing from different points of view. I believe that you can get snow-blind from seeing only one perspective. When Richard sent me this video it really opened my eyes. As an education advocate, I have been fighting the over-prescription of drugs like Ritalin to our kids. In the public schools especially, you see that children are far too often misdiagnosed as having ADD or ADHD.

I am a lifelong Bronx resident and grew up in tough neighborhoods. There were gangs, turf battles and “rumbles” but looking back now it was all very “West Side Story” in comparison to today. Gun violence wasn’t as big a worry in my day, for the most part you got into fights and relied on skills, win or lose you went about your business. Sadly times have changed, and while we mourn the tragedies of mass shootings, the media doesn’t even report most of the deaths that occur because of the easy access of guns. Since the Sandy Hook tragedy there have been over 900 gun related deaths in America. I support the assault weapons ban and believe in my heart that only the military and law enforcement should have clips that hold over 10 bullets, but we have to do so much more. Let’s start by enforcing the laws that are already on the books while we wait for Congress to pass new ones. I know that this is asking a lot but can we have a rational conversation about Gun Control, I understand that the NRA has done a wonderful job of buying politicians from both sides of the aisle but how about we expect our elected officials to listen to the people for whom they supposedly were elected to represent? Gun violence is one of the leading causes of teen deaths in this country and children of color in urban areas make up the majority of those deaths. The gun-homicide rate of black males is 15.3 times higher than non-Hispanic white males. Blacks make up 13% of the population but 56% of all firearm homicides. For black families, the chances of a male child dying from a gunshot wound is 62% higher than a motor-vehicle accident. In 2010, American Indian male teens had the 2nd highest gun-related deaths with 19.3 per 100,000 teens. Latino male teens followed, with 17.8 per 100,000. In contrast, white male teens had the 2nd lowest with 9.4% per 100,000. I have the privilege of working with some amazing youth here in the Bronx and would be devastated if anyone of these kids became victims of gun-violence.

As I write this the news is talking about a 7 year old boy who had his school put on lock-down because he brought a loaded gun to school. Now whatever your position on gun control is, I would like you to ask yourself to put aside the NRA talking points and answer these simple questions…

  • Why is it necessary to have weapons like the AK 47 or AR 15?
  • Do you really need armor piercing bullets?
  • Why do you need a clip that holds more than 10 bullets?

Please feel free to leave a comment here to further this discussion. I have left a large part of my argument out of this post so that I can hear from my readers. Thanks in advance for your input and remember…

Peace, Love and Justice For All