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The Long Shadow of Gun Violence

gun violence mural in NYC
Image is a portion of 100’ community mural – Crown Heights, NYC, 200 Photo: AFSC

So often our nation’s youth reach for their dreams, only to have those dreams ended by gunviolence. The death of Christina Green, a nine-year old girl, casts a long shadow over our nation and underscores a culture of violence. 

We stand with everyone holding in the Light the victims who lost their lives, those who remain wounded, and their families who will suffer so greatly as a result of the shooting in Tucson. 

We support those who hold our leaders accountable for the laxity of gun control which places the gun industry above the safety of our children and communities.  There are many steps we can take to support our representatives’ action - advocacy for a meaningful background check practice; reinstatement of the Assault Weapons Ban; and support for restrictions on high capacity ammunition clips.

Individuals shooting guns kill approximately 12,000 people a year; twelve young people die each day.  Under lax laws it is easy to purchase and carry a weapon. Individuals who might suffer from mental illness, or be unsuited for certain professions, can legally purchase assault weapons at local sporting goods stores or gun shows, and purchase magazines of 30 bullets which fire in just over 60 seconds.  Guns make killing easy; gun sales are a $3.5 billion annual industry.  In 2009 sales added 9 million new guns to the collective arsenal of 283 million guns, an average of almost one gun per person.

We hold ourselves accountable to reduce the violent response to conflict. Gun restrictions alone will not fundamentally change the perceived need to own and carry and use lethal weapons whether at the individual, non-state, or state level. A public consciousness of the long-term harm and futility of violence needs continual cultivation.  We believe conflicts and subsequent violent actions find their origins in core values differences, in miscommunications, in economic, political, and cultural structures, inequities and injustices, in unattended human needs or historical grievances. When conflicts remain unattended they can lead to damaging and  costly actions – from divisive political debates to the breakdown of public trust; from painful misunderstanding to extreme violence; from wasted resources to wasted lives. This need not happen; there are alternatives.

The American Friends Service Committee in New York City works with communities in which young people look to guns for protection and power. We know that 90% of guns used in crimes in New York City are trafficked in the city from states with lax gun laws, such as Arizona. The AFSC supports and applauds youth and adult gun violence activists and elected officials who voice their experience with death, advocate for stronger gun laws, support
community alternatives, and grieve with all victims’ family members.

We should know all too well the shadow cast by gun violence.  We all have much to account for in the death of Christina Green, for those who died or were seriously maimed in Tucson, and for those whose deaths are known only to their loved ones.