What will be the answer to the gun violence that continues on our American streets? How will we navigate protecting the second amendment and also keep the guns out of the wrong hands? Even with the toughest background checks it is not wholly unrealistic to assume that guns will end up in the wrong hands. Doing away with guns altogether is not the answer, yet an armed populace is an important counter balance to a very well-armed national government.
As the most armed country in the world we actually practice a great deal of responsible gun ownership when you consider the amount of weaponry owned by individuals compared to the level of gun violence that is perpetuated.
A 17-year old youth was shot in point-blank range in his temple in New York City this last weekend, another was gunned down in front of over forty police officers. The New York Post sais that, as with this case, even with a phalanx of police officers presence, even with flood lights lighting up the night, that crime is inevitable and people bent on exacting murder will go on doing as they please.
What do we do as a people beside draw a line of demarcation between those who support stricter gun laws and those who are adamant that no law will be allowed to stand to take the guns away? Is there a middle ground that doesn’t tear us apart as a people?
For one, stricter gun control laws will not stop illegal gun flows across the land and a gun that travels illegally skirts all background checks, making them null and void. This will happen as long as guns exist.
One idea is smart guns that only work according to fingerprint technology that allows the firing mechanism to work if the fingerprints are recognized. But guns can now be made of composite materials by ‘back-door’ establishments and smart gun technology has a long ways to catch up dealing with the proliferation of guns.
As a teacher, I see that we can also begin to address gun violence indirectly as a community by addressing social maladies that create socio-economic inequality. This is harder than simply beating the gun topic drums, as many politicians do. Unfortunately, a great deal of gun violence is initiated by African-American youth. This is more due to their ethnicity being traditionally at the bottom of the socio-economic strata. Being born in poverty, growing up in housing projects and constantly surrounded by others in the same plight strongly impacts personality, emotional state and forward-thinking mentality. It is not far-fetched to find people who have lost the hope to make something more of their lives. I have met people like this. One man I met last year, a heroin junkie told me he’d rather do something to stay in prison because he would get three meals a day, a bed and shelter. There are people who think backwards and are not rational at all. There are people who think about today only and are wrapped up in that which is trivial and fleeting. They have little to no regard for others and think only of themselves.
What do we do?
Should a concerted effort to rectify social inequality be made in low-income neighborhoods by bringing in tangible opportunities for socio-economic and educational growth? Can ending an economic system of constant financial welfare, plus the right kinds of social entrepreneurial supports and accommodations positively impact the local culture?
I know it can. I do not buy the messages of hopelessness put out by entities in the media and in the political realm that change cannot happen, in respect to gun violence. I posit that positively disruptive change comes with concerted individual efforts of a people working together to make life better, regardless of income, race, religion or creed. Rome was not built overnight and gun violence will not stop overnight. The answers are not just having schools talk about gun violence. The answers have more to do with helping people where they most need the help. It is hard for a man to pick up a gun and kill another indiscriminately when he has a solid education, hope for the future and feels a strong solidarity with his fellow Americans. The opposite is true to.. it is easy for a man to pick up a gun and violently end the life of another if he has had little to no education, has no hope of moving forward in his life and is use to carving out an existence on the streets peddling drugs.
If we don’t like the way things are we must roll up our sleeves, be the change we wish to see and bring the throttle of our hearts to full-throttle for each other. #IAm.
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