Gun violence is no stranger to urban communities. Once upon a time, there was little chance of being shot and killed in senseless gun violence unless you lived on the wrong side of town. Now the wrong side of town is everywhere— in small towns, big cities, college campuses, shopping centers, churches, hospitals, movie theaters, gated communities and elementary schools. No place is the right side of town. All have been the sight of gun violence and killings. And yet, some in our society think the solution is more guns. That’s like fighting the war on drugs and saying we need more drugs. It’s also like saying we need more prisons to end crime. More prisons have done nothing to end crime. And more guns in the hands of more citizens will not end gun violence. Guns in the hands of teachers, principals or movie goers will have no effect on a gun man armed with 80-100 rounds of ammunition and an assault rifle. That is not the answer.
In a civilized society, we owe ourselves, the obligation to do something significant about gun violence. It is a tough political issue and no one fix will fix it. That doesn’t mean that we should not begin the process to stop the madness and madmen who have taken our country hostage with guns and violence. As a former felony prosecutor, I have seen the havoc of guns on the victim’s families, their community and even on the shooter’s family.
The effect of guns and violence goes farther than we can imagine. I was struck and moved by a statement made by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan about a child. When Secretary Duncan asked the child what he wanted to be when he grew up, the response was “if I grow up, I want to be a fire fighter.” We are living in a society where many children affected by gun violence do not believe they will become adults. We live in a society where some children walk to catch the school bus and can see the locations where other children have been shot.
And for the Republican controlled Congress who sees no evil in guns and will do nothing to prevent the evil that is permeating our society, President Obama must go around them. As the saying goes, “one monkey don’t stop no show.” And we can’t let the Republicans stop the process of curbing gun violence.
Vice President Joe Biden made his recommendations on legislature and executive orders. On Wednesday, January 16, President Obama will make public his recommendations on controlling gun violence. And it will be up to the Obama Administration to do whatever is necessary by all means necessary to effect the change. Gun control or gun reform cannot be an area that the Obama Administration fails to act and use its executive power, where warranted. The NRA is already arming up against the President’s recommendations. The polls show that most Americans want some type of gun control. And as citizens, we must engage our elected officials to be a government of we the people, by the people and for the people. We must assist the political process if gun control is to occur.
As we approach Martin Luther King’s birthday and the inauguration of President Obama, I am mindful of the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr:
“Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.”
We must use our power to be a more nonviolent society. Guns are the problem and gun control is the solution.