Don’t shoot: Gun violence national dilemma

Aaron Sanders
Staff Writer

Last Thursday was an unpredictable day. I finished a rigorous afternoon after a weekly meeting with The Snapper staff. As I left the lower level of the SMC, a friend told me there was a lecture occurring at the time. Curious of the topic and the platform, I decided to go there on a whim and listen.
Professor David Kennedy of John Jay College was speaking about the rise of gun violence in America, particularly in inner city America. The talk was based off his book “Don’t Shoot: One Man, a Street Fellowship, and the End of Violence in Inner-City America.”
To be completely candid, I didn’t expect for an issue like this to be on the mind of a scholar with a terminal degree. Often, this social issue is an afterthought to academics and America at large. This night was different however.
Professor Kennedy spoke of how young men in urban New York prepare for their deaths by creating Facebook memorial pictures. “Street Shines” was something that was mentioned in the lecture; this is the employment of memorials in neighborhoods where a person was murdered. The street is often adorned with teddy bears and flowers.
According to Kennedy, in many of the urban slums of America, death by murder is expected. Statistics were used to support his premise. Kennedy said that one in three black males will be imprisoned for felonies related to shootings.
I could relate to what Dr. Kennedy was trying to convey to the audience that day. I lived in Philadelphia for most of life where poverty runs rampant and crime is socially accepted and used to rectify differences. For me, the lecture was applicable to my life and it was an explanation for the issues that I have seen growing up in a city.
The speaker approached the topic from a few different perspectives. First, he spoke for the police who say they think that those who are committing
the crimes are sociopaths who don’t care about their community.
Then he spoke of the community affected by gun violence, claiming they believe the police are to be mistrusted because they ship the drugs into the community and attack innocent people.
Kennedy debunks both arguments.
This lecture allowed me to think of gun violence in a different light. One can frame this issue as an urban problem but in reality it’s deeper than geographical lines.
Of course urban cities are disproportionately effected by weapon usage but it also occurs in suburban America. School shootings and random mass shootings are more prevalent than ever before.
This issue can be perceived as a national dilemma in which everyone is affected. It is for this reason that I believe that there should be stricter regulations on gun purchases and shipments across the states.
I understand we all have a second amendment right to possess firearms, but how many more mass shootings or accidental deaths do we need to have?
A critic of my position may argue that gun violence stems from poverty and criminals but this is not always the case. I am a proponent of the second amendment, but too often arms are getting into the hands of deranged citizens who may not have a criminal background as well as those who do.
Gun control is a very controversial subject that leads to divisiveness, but it is an issue that should be discussed.
Initially, when I went to lecture, I thought of gun violence as a “ghetto problem”, but if you do statistical research it occurs everywhere for different reasons.