Watching the news nowadays can be so depressing that I might as well pick up a copy of the obituaries. No matter where we turn, there always seems to be death around us – particularly incidents that involve gun violence. According to statistics, homicide rates by firearm in the United States are 19.5 times higher than rates in other high-income countries around the world. That, my friends, is a pretty scary thought.
It’s quite sad and very disturbing to hear news of senseless crimes that claim the lives of innocent people. How many mass shootings can you remember occurring over the past decades, or years for that matter? Just in the last three years alone, there have been a reported 12 that include the December 2012 incident at Sandy Hook Elementary that claimed the lives of 28 people – 20 of which were children. Such craziness has had the public in an uproar calling for stronger restrictions on guns and while I am apart of this number, I can’t help but think about the thousands of other stories happening across the country that make up part of the statistic, but are not getting the same type of attention.
Obviously when an occurrence like Sandy Hook or the Aurora movie theater shootings occurs, they catch us off guard. Your heart weeps for the parents who lost their children and others who won’t get the chance to say goodbye to loved ones. In times of tragedy, I can recall how quickly social media feeds like Facebook and Twitter filled with images of prayers and virtual ribbons to honor the deceased. Simple things like this can give us hope in a time when there is so much uncertainty and anger regarding the situation. But what about a word of encouragement for Shyla Rivera?
Four-year old Shyla was just one of four victims who lost their lives two weeks ago in Chicago due to senseless violence – and those were only random events that occurred within 24 hours. An astounding 33 more people ended up being shot that weekend bringing the total to 37 persons affected by gun violence. Does anyone else think this is crazy? And Chicago is not even considered the most dangerous city in America.
While I believe the discussion for gun control is much needed (especially in today’s society), I get so frustrated when its focus becomes solely centered around victims of mass shootings. Please don’t get me wrong, I have a heart and it aches thinking about the loss of life. But I also think about areas like Detroit, Chicago, Camden and my hometown of Baltimore, to name a few, that deal with the reality of gun violence on a daily basis. Each year, our communities lose thousands upon thousands of lives – with many victims literally caught in the crossfire. Do our innocent not count as well?
“Well it’s different” is what I tend to hear from some people when this topic comes up. Does society really overlook our death count to gun violence if it occurs in an area where it’s “expected?” Does that make it justified to skip over?
I honestly don’t expect for every incident of gun violence to get reported on mainstream news because it, unfortunately, happens way too often. And let’s face it, minorities being gunned down doesn’t sound like an eye-catching news hook compared to the random incidents of these mass shootings, as it would appear a good portion of society almost expects us to kill each other. But the harsh reality is this: the frequent incidents of gun violence in minority communities add up – whether reported or unknown. Even if victims don’t get the same attention as others, they still should be remembered or at least considered when the topic of gun control comes up.Even if our victims are not as news worthy or shocking to the system as others, they definitely still count in stats – and the numbers don’t lie.