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Local Voices: Senseless Gun Violence Has To Be Stopped

By Shedrick Byrd

As I read and listen to the media about the increased gun violence in Norfolk it makes me reflect to my teenage days. During those days I lived in Gary, Indiana where gun violence in my neighborhood ran rampant. I was sometimes afraid to leave home in fear that I might become the victim of a violent act. I am beginning to sense that feeling now here in Norfolk. I have become extremely conscious of my travels in the city and my visits, especially to malls, convenience stores and even passing through some neighborhoods. That should not be.
I wonder to myself, why can’t there be reasonable gun law legislation enforced in this country? Not only in Norfolk, every day in America, someone is shot and killed by a gun. Our political leaders seem to be undaunted, fearing the possibility of losing their jobs and will do nothing about passing laws to prevent these outrageous and senseless killings. Here in Norfolk, killings by guns have been on the rise the past few years matching killings in Newport News.

People are killed by gang violence, through drug wars, mentally ill persons going amok, and angry disagreements between family members. When you challenge a politician on the amount of violence, they quickly hide behind the Second Amendment of the Constitution, saying people have the right to keep and bear arms. So I don’t expect much change in gun laws if the Republicans running for President of the United States win the election. In every one of their speeches they make sure they emphasize Second Amendment rights are alive and well and that citizens with be protected and that their guns will not be taken away from them. They are immune to the daily killings and rally around having more guns in citizens’ hands in a belief that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is for the good guy to have a gun.

According to the Second Amendment which was passed by Congress in 1789, people have a right to keep and bear arms to defend against common criminals (as well for hunting and other forms of recreation). I racked my brains trying to remember when was the last time I heard that anybody was shot for breaking and entry into a person’s home or private property, or in a hunting accident. I couldn’t come up with an answer. Then I did remember that George Bush’s Vice President Dick Cheney shot a friend on a hunting trip.

With modern technology e.g. burger alarms, and cameras, the use of guns to protect life and property has diminished. Whenever I hear or read about a shooting, it’s about a massive killing at a school or other public places, or a drive by shooting with an assault weapon or a family dispute. Why does a person need to own an assault weapon? If it is for recreation purposes, why can’t they go to the weapons range and use one?

We elect political leaders today who come from privileged backgrounds and don’t have a clue of how the average and/or low income American lives. They have never been in an area where there are drive by shootings, or where they have children who attend a school where a mean or mentally ill person has shot up the school.

They are greenhorns who go to Congress and are approached by NRA lobbyists who wave money in their faces, making them forget about the reasons they ran for and were elected to public office. Some others come from gerrymandered or politically rigged districts and feel they are only responsible for that district and not representative of all Americans. We have to get rid of gun violence. The passion for guns is out of control in America.

In this election year we must question our politicians who are running for public office to make certain that they understand and commit that preventing gun violence must be number one issue on their agendas. I truly believe the only way we will get any action from Congress or the National Rifle Association to stop the violence is through a citizens’ movement that’s similar to the Black Lives Matter movement. These senseless and violent killings have got to be stopped!

Shedrick Byrd is a frequent contributor to the New Journal and Guide, and the author of the book, “The Mississippi Byrd, from Rural to Urban to Suburban and Beyond.”

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