The Unresolved Issue of Gun Violence

Gun Violence: A Local Act of Terrorism
Gun violence continues to plague the United States. Mass shootings are occurring more frequently than ever, yet politicians and lobbyists join with the National Rifle Association (NRA) to uphold its interpretation of gun rights and gun control, as stipulated in the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Clearly, there seems to be an abuse of the Constitution that jeopardizes the safety of all Americans--the very people the Constitution is designed to protect. Congress, the legislative body responsible for initiating laws that protect citizens of this great country, has done nothing to enact laws that will stem the sale of guns without concrete checks as to who are purchasing these guns. For 2015 alone, there has been some 353 mass shootings, resulting in 462 deaths and 1, 312 injuries.

Every time a mass shooting happens, politicians, clergy and a host of community leaders and social commentators voice their opinions on the issue of gun control, but for years there seems to be more talk than action, as everything remains the same and more innocent lives are lost daily to guns. The most recent San Bernardino shootings, where 14 people were killed and 17 injured, again sparked the debate over gun control laws. It also generated outrage and consternation from all sectors of society, except the NRA, and from those who support the sale of guns without any form of control. CARE Journal has been talking with local faith leaders and some politicians on the issue of gun violence prior to the San Bernardino shootings and this is what they had to say on the issue.

Karim Camara, Executive Director/Deputy Commissioner of Governor Cuomo's office of Faith-based Community Development Services

The issue of gun violence is a long standing problem. We have to deal with the issues of the concentration of poverty in communities throughout the country. This is something that is not unique to New York City or New York State. In this State we have to continue programs such as the ones Governor Cuomo has championed and passed through the legislative process, and the ones he has come up with on his own including urban youth jobs, work for success and increase the minimum wage. We can't blame gun violence alone on someone not having a job, but we have to look at all the factors that lead into community decay and many of those situations has to do with economics not guns.
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Congessman Hakeem Jeffries - NYHakeem Jeffries, U.S. Representative for New York's 8th District

We have a gun violence epidemic in the city of New York and across America as most recently brought to life again by the tragic shooting in Oregon. America has five percent of the world's population, but fifty percent of the world's guns, so half the guns that exist in this world are in the United States of America. It is estimated that we have more than 285,000,000 guns in circulation throughout this country. That's why it is important for Congress to act and to make sure that we can do everything possible to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, those with criminal convictions as well as those with mental illnesses who are likely to do us harm…. we've got additional challenges here in Brownsville and throughout East New York and throughout communities in Brooklyn and New York City, because the guns that cause the havoc here, aren't being sold originally or manufactured in the city of New York; they are actually imported into the city from southern states like North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, as well as the neighboring state of Pennsylvania. ... read more

Dr. Jill Stein, The Green Party Presidential Candidate 2016

"Gun violence is really the second cause of deaths for young people in this country after automobile accidents and we need to do what needs to be done here; this is not rocket science…we need background checks so that people who do not need to have guns in their hands, do not get them. We need to take automatic and semi-automatic weapons off the shelves. Automatic weapons are not for hunting; they are for killing people… communities have a right to make rules to create safety; communities have a right to deal with the dangers that they are facing, so while we support banning automatic weapons and background checks, that is a national policy that is the mere minimum. more

Anthony Butler, Executive Director, St John's Bread & Life Feeding Program

I think the easy access to guns and not applying the rules and regulations that currently exists regarding the restrictions of guns, is one of the primary problems to gun violence. Guns are accessible across state lines, accessible without background checks at the varying number of gun trade shows and this is a major problem. I think there is a moral problem, too. We've become a country where we think the other person is an adversary, so we have this need to defend ourselves, not by negotiating with the other person, but rather settling our differences and disputes by a high level of violence; what used to be settled by an argument, is now settled by fatal violence. more

Rev. Michael Walrond, Chair of Mayor de Blasio's Clergy Advisory Council

There has for some time now has always been a rampant and pervasive presence of guns in our street. We've experienced times when gun violence has gone down, we've seen times when gun violence has escalated, but, I would say that no matter how much policies have been put forward in state legislature or the number of creative ideas we've put forward to minimize the presence of guns, it is just not the presence of guns that will minimize gun violence, it is a shift in cultural attitude, in cultural sensibilities about the value of human life. I think the reason for many people and particularly our young people in our city to use guns to settle issues or to recklessly take lives is because there is no value in a life. That conversation has to take place where we find creative ways to begin to undermine attempts that dehumanized the value of human beings in whatever way. ... read more

Eric Adams, Brooklyn Borough President

I think that it's important that we look at the mind set of society where guns are easily accessible and readily available, we really have to focus on that, and when you match that with people believing that the answer to their dispute is to quickly pick up a hand gun that's readily accessible it only adds to the problem. The name of the game we believe is to look at the underground organizations. The police can only take the battle of gun violence so far. Now we have to go to the crevices of our communities and allow those on the ground organizations like Man Up, SOS, Gangsters Alive in the Hood, Fight For Life, SNUG, all of these organizations that are made up of young people who are on the ground and would like to participate in saving their communities, and saving the lives of young people who are carrying guns and who are the victims of guns. What we are finding is that many of these organizations need the proper funding to go and expand their catchment areas and my call is to the Mayor to allocate an additional 10 million dollars of emergency funding to these organizations so we can focus on the pockets of violence that we have. We've done a great job over the years with the over proliferation of hand guns in many parts of the community, but there's still residue of problem areas, particular around public housing that we really need to focus on and the police are not going to be able to do it on their own, they need the assistance of these on the ground organizations. more

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