Our Conversation about Guns ///

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What’s new since our conversation about guns…

Since our conversation about guns (Hey Friend…Let’s talk about Guns), yet another mass school shooting has occurred. This time in a wealthy, Florida High school with students who have received a strong education.  A school with a lot of resources and parents who would be considered well off. I believe the data suggests the average home value in Parkland is roughly $500,000. Now, I’ll admit I haven’t read up much on the economics of Parkland and Broward County as a whole, but I think it’s easy enough to suggest this isn’t a poor town.

Impassioned conversation and Influence…

As a result of this shooting, an impassioned conversation has taken hold, marches have been organized and laws have actually been written. A lot of this influence has to do with the fact that these kids have privilege. Their ability to march, speak up, and gain support from their families is very much tied to the realities of their privilege. Now, I’m not mad about this…it’s about time some momentum is had in this discussion regardless of how you feel about guns or school safety. This has been a topic seemingly off limits for a long time. We haven’t been able talk about gun control, gun safety, gun rights, etc.  When we do it invokes the  NRA and their extreme impact on this conversation. The influence to create NO action. So, I’m glad to see something has turned the tide and created a true conversation about what is our gun culture.

Give all Families a voice…

That said, I am writing this because there is a key part of this discussion missed and it needs to be included. Yes, school shootings are extremely sad, angering, and very upsetting to our culture as a whole…but so are all the innocent kids who are murdered in our minority communities. We accept these deaths because they are attributed to gang violence. The truth is many mom’s lose their children to stray bullets and innocent lives are taken. Even if a death is of someone who is engaged in the violence itself they are often young kids in poor communities who didn’t have a chance to begin with. Their schools and communities don’t have resources like the kids in Parkland. They don’t have the support to march and stand up to promote the conversation. We don’t give them the sympathy and empathy we give the kids of Parkland. Is it because they have dark skin? Because they may be poor and thus live in a tougher, less protected place? Or, they are justified since it is “self-inflicted”? It is all of these things for some and some of these things for many…

It is not to say what occurs in rich, whiter areas, should not gain sympathy and empathy…they absolutely should. That privilege should be used to progress the conversation and make change. But it is to say, don’t forget all the mom’s and children who live in different areas who are afflicted by this EVERY DAY. And it is not because they want to be or because they inflicted it upon themselves…it is because their choices and options are limited and we need them to be a part of this conversation too. It isn’t just about the AR-15 or Semi-Automatic weapons…it IS about how easy one can acquire a firearm in Indiana and then drive 45 minutes back to Chicago (Where Guns In Chicago Come From – Washington Post)…this conversation is bigger than Florida, Sandy Hook, Columbine, and the hundreds of mass shootings that have taken place since 2004.

The gun debate is an important discussion to be had and we need to keep having it…but please remember, it affects a lot of other people on a daily basis and not just schools. Give those Moms a voice too and don’t forget about them…otherwise we will continue to fall back on the good ol’ response that “look at Chicago, they have strict gun laws and they have a lot of murders”. Know this isn’t an inner city problem…Gun Advocates argue this is a cultural problem, and I agree…it is a cultural problem to blame gangs, to ignore the thousands of moms who lose their children in poorer communities, AND it is to protect all the students who go to school and just want an education not to worry about people ready to fire…

Since our recording, my position on this issue has changed…not how I feel about them but how I feel about having a voice on the issue. These kids have marched without endless pockets and have influenced change. And Kids from all communities were included in the marches this past weekend and they have been given a voice.

This conversation isn’t just about schools. ALL families need to be as loud and as included as the kids from Parkland.

KeithKeith Richardson