We Are Failing Our Children on Gun Violence

On Monday, a 9 year old boy was gunned down in an alleyway in Chicago. Tyshawn Lee, still clad in his school uniform and carrying his beloved basketball, was shot multiple times in the head and chest. He soon lay dead, feet from his prized basketball. Everyone in the alleyway scattered. No one wants to talk to police. His mother cries on the news like we’ve seen far too many times before. Why is this pain not reverberating?

We went through a hell of a summer. Shooting after shooting made national headlines. A shooting at a church, a shooting at a military recruiting center, among many others, and a shooting at Umpqua Community College to round-out the carnage as we made our way into fall. My eyes are stinging with tears as I type this. How much more of this will we allow?

I live and breathe this pain. I have the honor of sitting an office with parents whose loved ones were stolen from them by bullets. I do my best to get the word out to our followers and friends about what’s going on in the world around us. I do my best to share the many ways we can work to stop gun violence.

But the pain is the same and it remains, reawakened by instance after instance of horrific violence. Twenty first-graders in Newtown, Tyshawn in Chicago, 5-month-old Aavielle Wakefield in Cleveland, 9 college students in Oregon, the at least 13 toddlers who’ve killed themselves with guns unintentionally just this year. We are failing our children in every generation, at every stage of life, and at every turn in this country. Age doesn’t matter. No parent should lose their child to gun violence, be it in pre-k or in graduate school. How many parents have to lose children? How many children have to lose siblings, friends? When will we learn that violence is not the answer. So cliche, right? What have we become when shooting someone when you’re mad is the route that makes most sense to so many people? How low have we sunk as to lure a 9 year old boy into an alley and execute him over an alleged beef with another adult? When did children become collateral for your adult problems?

There is work to be done. There is anger to be cultivated into action. It is time for parents to cry out, “Not my child. Not my home. Not my neighborhood. Not my school,” and then act on it. There are undoubtedly more parents who want their kids to survive a school year, a walk to the park, a game at the basketball court, a bible study, than there are people who could possible argue otherwise. Their right to life and safety is greater than any other right and we need to do better for our children. There is no time left to waste.

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