Gloria Pan

    Speak louder Than Gun Fire

    Posted March 28th, 2013 by

    A couple of weeks ago, I met a woman named Louisa during a protest in front of the NRA’s national headquarters. As I walked beside her, waving my sign that said, “Smart Gun Laws, Safe Families,” I asked her, “Has anyone in your family ever been impacted by gun violence?” Literally stopping in her tracks, Louisa replied in astonishment, “Are you joking? Who on earth hasn’t been?”

    Her voice shaking, Louisa proceeded to tell me about her 18-year-old nephew, Ian, who fell asleep in a neighbor’s game room and ended up being shot by intruders. His death devastated their family, leading his father, Louisa’s brother, to kill himself a few years later.

    The fact is, twenty percent of Americans – that’s one in five Americans – know someone who has been a victim, or have themselves been victims of gun violence.  It’s no exaggeration to call gun violence an epidemic. MomsRising needs to gather as many personal experiences as possible to help lawmakers fully realize the terrible toll gun violence is taking on families and communities across the country, sparking them to action to pass common-sense gun safety measures like universal background checks for all gun purchases, which more than 90% of the public and 74% of NRA members support. We need to convey to lawmakers how very, very much moms and family members want and need safe families and communities.

    If you have a personal experience with gun violence… If you have strong feelings about why we need better gun laws… Would you share them with us to help move lawmakers to enact common-sense gun laws? Please share your thoughts here:

    http://www.momsrising.org/member_stories/topic/have-you-been-touched-by-gun-violence-in-any-way/

    Sharing your experiences makes a difference. Just the other day, the legislative aide of a Senator (one who has been on the fence about backing new gun laws like universal background checks) told me how difficult it has been to hear about the suffering and pain of gun violence survivors. And when Louisa was courageous enough to share Ian’s story on the MomsRising blog, readers responded with such comments as: “Thank you for reminding us that violence has such a wide negative impact,” and, “I am very moved by reading the trajectory of your story, and my heart hurts just trying to imagine all the other such stories.”

    The gun lobby may have financial clout, but we have power in numbers. Together, our collective voice, rising up through our individual thoughts and experiences, will make the difference. YOUR thoughts and experiences can make the difference in moving our lawmakers to do the right thing.

    If you have a personal experience with gun violence, or have strong feelings about why we need better gun laws, would you share them with us to help move lawmakers to enact common-sense gun laws? Please share your thoughts here:

    http://www.momsrising.org/member_stories/topic/have-you-been-touched-by-gun-violence-in-any-way/

    A recent survey found that of the 20 percent of Americans who know a person who was a victim of gun violence, 62 percent say the victims were good friends or family members, or even themselves.  And within specific communities, the percentage is even higher. Forty-two percent of African-Americans surveyed said they know someone who has been shot, more than double the general population.

    Gun violence is literally decimating entire communities. It won’t stop unless lawmakers enact real policies to reduce gun violence, including universal background checks, bans on assault rifles and high capacity magazines, and a strong federal anti-gun trafficking law.

    Now is the time for moms and families to speak up. We need to release a flood of our experiences and and deeply felt concerns in order to break through the cocoon of silence the gun lobby has spent decades building around our lawmakers.

    Please share your thoughts here:

    http://www.momsrising.org/member_stories/topic/have-you-been-touched-by-gun-violence-in-any-way/

    The time to share our experiences, thoughts and stories is now.

    Together, we can move lawmakers to put family and community safety first. Together, we are a powerful voice for safe families and safe communities.

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    1 Comment

    March 28, 2013 at 5:09 pm by Eric

    I agree that violent crime disproportionately affects black communities. It also disproportionately affects criminals.

    This is a problem that needs solving, through sober analysis of the facts. The fact is that soccer moms are not being gunned down, which is why it’s so easy for the mainstream media to completely ignore the carnage until it’s white kids that are killed.

    ————-
    By Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY
    WASHINGTON — A spike in murders in many cities is claiming a startling number of victims with criminal records, police say, suggesting that drug and gang wars are behind the escalating violence. Police increasingly explore criminal pasts of homicide victims as well as suspects as they search for sources of the violence, which has risen the past two years after a decade of decline, according to the FBI’s annual measures of U.S. crime. Understanding victims’ pasts is critical to driving crime back down, police and crime analysts say. “If you are trying to look at prevention, you need to look at the lives of the people involved,” says Mallory O’Brien, director of the Homicide Review Commission in Milwaukee.

    In Baltimore, about 91% of murder victims this year had criminal records, up from 74% a decade ago, police reported. In many cases, says Frederick Bealefeld III, Baltimore’s interim police commissioner, victims’ rap sheets provide critical links to potential suspects in botched drug deals or violent territorial disputes.

    MORE FROM BALTIMORE: Cities study victims’ criminal past

    Philadelphia police Capt. Ben Naish says the Baltimore numbers are “shocking.” Philadelphia also has seen the number of victims with criminal pasts inch up — to 75% this year from 71% in 2005.

    In Milwaukee, local leaders created the homicide commission after a spike in violence led to a 39% increase in murders in 2005. The group compiled statistics on victims’ criminal histories for the first time and found that 77% of homicide victims in the past two years had an average of nearly 12 arrests.

    While it was common in the past for murder victims to have criminal records, the current levels are surprising even to analysts who study homicides.

    “Anecdotally, the detectives on the street knew” victims with prior police contact were being killed, “but we wanted people to start to look at this” in the community, O’Brien says.

    In Newark, where three young friends with no apparent links to crime were executed Aug. 4, roughly 85% of victims killed in the first six months of this year had criminal records, on par with the percentage in 2005 but up from 81% last year, police statistics show.

    David Kennedy, a professor at New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice, says the rise in criminals killing criminals has escaped policymakers’ attention.

    “The notion that these (murders) are random bolts of lightning, which is the commonly held image, is not the reality,” says Kennedy, who has examined the backgrounds of murder suspects and victims in multiple U.S. cities. “It happens, but it doesn’t happen often.”

    The slaying of truly innocent victims is so unusual in Baltimore that the chief prosecutor says the city has become dangerously numb to the carnage. “If we don’t put human faces on the victims, we will become desensitized,” State Attorney Patricia Jessamy says.

    —————-

    “Between 1990 and 1994, 75% of all homicide victims age 21 and younger in the city of Boston had a prior criminal record.”
    Kennedy, David M., Anne M. Piehl, Anthony A. Braga (1996). “Youth Violence in Boston: Gun Markets, Serious Youth Offenders, and a Use-Reduction Strategy”

    “In Philadelphia, the percentage of those killed in gun homicides that had prior criminal records increased from 73% in 1985 to 93% in 1996.”
    McGonigal, Michael D., John Cole, C. William Schwab, Donald R. Kauder, Michael F. Rotondo, Peter B. Angood (1993). “Urban Firearm Deaths: A Five-Year Perspective”. Journal of Trauma 35 (4): 532–536.

    “In Richmond, Virginia, the risk of gunshot injury is 22 times higher for those males involved with crime.”
    McLaughlin, Colleen R., Jack Daniel, Scott M. Riener, Dennis E. Waite, et al.. “Factors Associated with Assault-Related Firearm Injuries in Male Adolescents”. Working paper. Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice.

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