Gun violence: a public health issue, public pressure solutions

NAYABA ARINDE Amsterdam News Editor | 12/28/2012, 10:33 a.m.
Activists rally against gun violence

"Then there all the video games, then the big Hollywood movies with the Schwarzeneggers and the Stallones--all surrounded by violence. A report just said that if you watch TV for just one day, you can see 26 murders; and that has an impact on the psyche of the person watching it, child or adult."

With U.S. mass killings like Virginia Tech, Columbine and Aurora back in the general public consciousness, on Friday, Dec. 21, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre stated that the solution for a bad gunman was a good one, and that every American school should have an armed guard. Rev. Al Sharpton called his statements "asinine."

"As I reflect on the lives lost in this horrific tragedy [in Newtown], something must be done--yesterday. Guns in the wrong hands (mentally ill, criminals) will always end in disaster. At the core of all acts of violence is unresolved, unspeakable, unbearable wounds, trauma, pain and scars--we have to do more to stabilize this issue," said Terrie M. Williams, mental-health advocate and author of "Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We're Not Hurting."

Praising Obama's appointment of Biden to head the gun violence task force, Williams said, "a major component of this initiative will be a mental health coalition. I will continue to do everything in my power to educate the public about what depression and other mental illnesses look like, sound like and feel like in an attempt to prevent future horrific tragedies."

Former mayor and current Columbia professor David Dinkins stated, "We must each become advocates for those who wish to keep themselves and their families from harm's way, but who find obstacles in the National Rifle Association and its gun lobbyists that promote (as Mayor Michael Bloomberg called it) 'god-awful pieces of legislation' that gut programs that cities need to keep our residents safe ... and contribute to the deaths of more than 30,000 Americans every year."

Dinkins was the architect of the "Safe Streets, Safe City: Cops and Kids" criminal justice plan when he was mayor of New York City in the '90s.

"We don't believe that the proliferation of guns can ever stop in our community, because we have always been asking how these high-powered handguns have been making their way into the hands of our kids; and our numbers speak 10 times the number of these suburban communities," said Mitchell, who walks the streets of East New York dealing with the youth there when he is not meeting with other community leaders and city and state politicians.

"There has to be a people-versus-politicians movement, where the people put pressure for what they want them to do as opposed to the lobbyists and the NRA. The people represent the fire that can be put under their feet.

"People in the inner city and the ABC--we, the people--need to put up our own solutions. In Newtown, there have been so many support groups and charities that have been started. We need to organize are own Peace and Relief Fund that can give money to grassroots groups, and not rely on politicians to fund our programs with money that comes with so many restrictions. We need to tap our business people and artists and ask them to become Ambassadors of Peace. That's why we took caskets to Jay-Z's opening show at the Barclays Arena in September. We still need that help in the inner city, and we are still asking for a people's movement to confront gun violence."