Urban Views Weekly Newsletter

Guns Don’t Kill People?

From the Publishers Desk

Today, I would like to introduce a new column and its author, Tawnya Pettiford-Wates, Phd.  Each week you will find the wisdom and wit of Dr. T, located under our VIEWPOINTS heading.

Many of our readers will remember the feature that Urban Views published in July 2011 on The Conciliation Project where she used theatre to discuss racism. And just last week she wrote a review on Django Unchained.

Dr. T, as she likes to refer to herself, is an artist, activist, educator, scholar, writer, mother, wife and citizen. She expects her column to engage the reader in an ongoing dialogue around all kinds of topics with national, global, regional, local and community impact.

Dr. T works and lives in Richmond, VA and she said that one of her favorite things to do is to engage in critical discourse. She said, “I am interested in opinion, commentary and dialogue. People talking to other people, listening, discussing passionately what they think, feel and believe. For me the question is often more important than the answer.”

Dr. T went on to say, “I expect to engage others in an ongoing exchange of ideas because, as a community, we need to talk. We need to connect with one another around issues and topics that concern us. The column is a way we can impact, inform and empower one another with information, humor and concern. Individually we all know some things but collectively we know a whole lot more.”

I hope you enjoy her column. Then take a moment, read the article below and add your viewpoint to the dialogue.

Ervin B. Clarke



Guns Don’t Kill People?

By Dr. T

What’s the matter with us? The level of gun violence in the United States is unquestionably out-of-control. As a nation, we cannot seem to limit the regularity with which our children, young women and men are being maimed, wounded, assaulted and murdered with the proliferation of guns and gun violence. It has become an acute public health issue as critical as the aids epidemic of the 1980s, before the identification of the virus and research provided for awareness and prevention programs along with pharmaceutical remedies albeit no cure.  In ten years, between 2000 and 2009, almost 300,000 people have died as a result of gun violence. About 30,000 deaths annually, which is second only to car accidents over the same period of time. (This is according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.) Although the overall numbers of murders (of all kinds) have decreased in most urban centers within the US since 2009, gun violence has been on the rise. This is in part due to the increase of mass murders and the expiration of the Assault Weapons Ban in 2004.  With the expiration of the ban on assault weapons, the number of shootings per year have doubled and the number of victims of gun violence has almost tripled.

Guns don’t kill people; people do…is a trite and trendy quip. No. People with guns kill people and more to the point, bullets shot from the guns by people are what kills people. And people with automatic assault weapons and high capacity magazines are, in fact, the sole reason for mass murder.  In the United States of America, the home of the FREE and the Brave, the list is horrendous: Columbine, Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, TX, Tuscan, AZ, Aurora, CO and Newtown, CT, to name but a few. Adding up the number of people killed and seriously wounded in just these six horrific tragedies totals 255. In the past year alone, there were seven mass shootings with over 138 people killed and wounded. These mass shootings occurred at all hours of the day and night, in public and private spaces ranging from a health club to a café, a university classroom, a movie theater, a religious temple, small business and an elementary school. All victims were killed or wounded in just a few short minutes due to automatic assault weapons and high capacity magazines. This is a public health crisis, an epidemic of violence in America.

The opposition to CHANGE in this country has always been a challenge that requires courage, tenacity and a strategic offensive. But change is indeed inevitable. In the major urban centers of this nation, black and brown children, young women and men are being murdered, wounded and assaulted at an alarming rate every single day. The epidemic is not new to us. But with the most recent senseless murders of 5 and 6 year old elementary school children gunned down in an idyllic Connecticut town within a few minutes on a single day, the spotlight is now (for a moment) on gun violence in America. We have a small window in order to address the culture of violence in our nation. We need to ask the question; what’s the matter with us? Do you have any answers? You don’t have to know everything in order to SAY some thing. Talk to me. Let’s move this one from the margins of our discussions and put it in the center of attention.  It needs some real dialogue. Our future depends on it.

Tawnya Pettiford-Wates, Ph.D.
Artistic Director and Founder of The Conciliation Project www.theconciliationproject.org and a Professor of Theatre at VCU

 Up next week WWMLK do? Let’s talk about it.

5 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. Can you address why no one seems to care that the black community is so disproportionate in guns and gun deaths?

    ********************* ******************* *****************
    Firearm homicide is the leading cause of death for African Americans ages 1-44.

    African Americans make up nearly 13% of the U.S. population, but in 2009 suffered almost 24% of all firearm deaths – and over 54% of all firearm homicides.

    (.Nat’l Ctr. for Injury Prevention & Control, U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Web-Based Injury Statistics Query & Reporting System (WISQARS) Leading Causes of Death Reports)

  2. Why does it “seem” that no one cares that the leading cause of homicide within the African American community is gun violence? Well, it comes down to who and what is important in America? There are historically disenfranchised “groups” & the level of “care” has always been divided down lines of race & class. Follow the money. One of the most powerful lobbying entities in Washington is the NRA. In fact they “own” (political contributions) many in the US Congress . The culture of violence is this nation is rooted in its history and the target of that violence has historically been disproportionally Black & Brown people. Everyone “seems” to have gotten used to it?

  3. Hmmm, I guess it couldn’t be because black men abandon their responisibilities and abandon their families.

    It’s obvious that the black community has failed because of the decisions that black men have made. It has nothing to do with the NRA. That’s a red herring. Things won’t improve in the black community until black women make black men own up to growing up. Join us in the fight to focus on getting our act together, not just shift the blame to some “boogie man”.

  4. Well first of all I am not going to be an apologist for any man Black/white/brown or otherwise who abandons his family and/or responsibilities. The question posed had to do with why nobody “seems to care” that Black communities are so disproportionately affected by gun violence? That is the point I addressed.

    The rational as to why Black men seem to disproportionally abandon their families or responsibilities is a completely different topic area. And though there may be some intersectionality when also connecting gun violence, rates of incarceration, unemployment, educational opportunity and so on. …to the topic, it is a completely different conversation to have.

    I can say that the African American men I have known in my lifetime do NOT fit that profile…they were hard working husbands, fathers, grandfathers, uncles, brothers and sons. Some of them well educated professional men and some of them hard working men of various trades and occupations. And none of those men either abandoned their families nor their responsibilities. I cannot say that the points you make are not valid ones however my experience has taught me differently…and the NRA and lack of GUN Control is definitely NOT a “red herring” nor a “boogie man.” I assure you both are very potent and powerful factors in the discussion of GUN Violence within communities of color.

  5. I feel for the American people when it comes to these gun killings, and yes, people with guns kill people. The is one thing though that i as a being on Earth have come to understand, and that is, with development and the need by people to be in better living conditions : this for the majority of the people: And for those with money to keep making more to sustain their wealth and power causes this problem. The guns are just the smoke covering the truth, and the truth is Greed. This money Idea has made people become mechanical and just abt self. People worry abt how they look and not how they feel, and that alone is a gun to the head. My point is this though, people with guns kill people but the people who work making those guns for survival kill people, the men and women who profit from these guys kill people, and if we say the is nothing wrong with money then the shouldn’t be wrong with gun violence.

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