On Valentine’s Day 2022, the Alvarez family were on their way to a special family dinner in Huston, Texas. Armando Alvarez made a stop at a drive-thru ATM. As he waited in line a robbery took place. There was gun fire and Armando told his family to duck down in the car. Nine-year-old Arlene Alvarez was sitting in the backseat of her parents’ car wearing headphones and she did not hear the warning. Arlene was shot in the head and killed.
This tragedy happened because Tony Earls was robbed $20 dollars at the ATM. He was carrying a gun so he pulled out his gun and randomly started shooting. His gun fire struck Arlene and killed her.
If Tony Earls had not been carrying a gun on that Valentine’s Day, Arlene Alvarez would be alive.
Seventy two million people report as owning guns in the USA.
On November 30, 2021, students left home to go to Oxford High School in Oxford, Michigan, thinking it was going to be a normal school day. But it was not a normal school day. At about 12:51 p.m.,15-year-old Ethan Crumbley left a boy’s bathroom with the gun his father bought four days earlier. He fired at students in the hallway and he killed four schoolmates and wounded six other students and one teacher. The four students who did not come home to their families because they were shot dead at school by a peer, are 16-year-old Tate Myre, 14-year-old Hana St. Juliana, 17-year-old Madisyn Baldwin and 17-year-old Justin Shilling.
There have been at least 29 school shootings in 2021. Eight children have been killed in shootings in schools this year and 48 have been injured. America holds the world record for school shootings.
The gun culture is alive and well in America, while Tate Myre, Hana St. Juliana, Madisyn Baldwin and Justin Shilling are dead.
“Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” is stated in the United States Declaration of Independence. A gun’s only purpose is to kill and take away “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. Guns take away these rights that America is founded on.
Trinity Ottoson-Smith was shot in the head on May 15 in north Minneapolis during a birthday party. She was jumping on a trampoline when she was struck by a bullet. She was hit by a stray bullet fired at another residence. Trinity was nine years old. Let me say this again-Trinity was nine years old. For twelve days she fought for her life, but on May 27, 2021 she died.
Trinity wanted to be a teacher. She was shot in the head jumping on a trampoline. The gun culture in America is killing our children. The phrase “only in America” has new meaning.
On September 5, 2018, Delmonte Johnson was 19 years old. As a young man who lived in Chicago on the South Side, he knew the tragedy that gun violence brings to families and to community. Delmonte wanted to make a difference. He was an active anti gun violence advocate. He was a volunteer with GoodKids MadCity. He spearheaded fundraising to give children a chance to go to camp. He was an activist and he was shot and killed on the sidewalk of a South Side street in Chicago. The deadly bullets came from a car. The car sped away leaving Delmonte a new statistic in the toll gun violence takes on our young people across America. But he is not a hash mark, he was a brother and a son. He was a bright light. We, as part of the American community, must keep his light shinning and continue his work to stop gun violence.
Friday, April 20, 2018, 17-year-old boy was shot in the ankle by a 19-year-old man. He was shot in school.
This happened on the day of a National Walkout Against Gun Violence. Students at Forest High School, Ocala, Florida were planning to walk out in protest against gun violence. Before they could participate in this peaceful statement against gun violence, shots broke out in their high school.
All reports are focused on the fact that the injury was not “life threatening”. Let us be clear a gunshot wound to the ankle can be life changing. Being shot is life changing.
This should not be acceptable.
Each one of us needs to address the culture of guns in America.
I am screaming this to you: Tuesday, January 23, 2018, two Marshall County High School students went to school and were shot dead by a fellow student with a hand gun. The students who died were Bailey Nicole Holt, 15 years old and Preston Ryan Cope, also 15 years old. Twelve other students were hit with gun fire and five of these students are in critical condition. The shooter was 15 years old.
Did you hear me. Kids were shot and killed today at school. AGAIN. AGAIN.
And the news of a high school shooting was reduced to a chyron on the TV screen.
On Thursday, December 7, 2017, Casey Marquez and Francisco Fernandez went to school. They were students at Aztec High School in Aztec, New Mexico. Casey was 17 years old. Francisco was 18 years old. They never came home from school. They were shot dead at school.
On December 6, 2017, the House passed The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act. This will permit concealed carry license holders to conceal a handgun in other states.
No single legislation will prevent gun violence and no single legislation causes gun violence, but the national attitude prevents a change in the gun culture that is part of the American fabric.
The gun culture kills. Our youth are being killed at school. Our youth are being killed at concerts. Our youth are being killed at malls. Our youth are being shot and killed.
Casey and Francisco are dead. They were shot at school.
In 1987 the term road rage was coined in response to a rash of Los Angeles freeway shootings. The term shifts blame from human behavior to the road. There are about 1,200 incidents of road rage reported each year in the United States. There are about 1,200 incidents of humans inflicting harm in some way to fellow drivers reported each year in the United States. The road does not rage-a person rages-a driver rages.
On Saturday December 17, 2016, Acen King was a victim of driver rage. Acen’s grandmother, Kim King-Macon, was behind the wheel and at a stop sign when the driver of a black 2003 Chevy Impala honked the horn at her. Kim King-Macon honked back, and the driver, apparently angry that the grandmother was not moving fast enough, exited his car and opened fire on her car striking Acen who was in the back seat.
Acen was 3 years old. Acen was not killed by a road raging he was killed by a bad person who got out of his car and pointed a gun at another car and shot a bullet into that car with the intent to kill. A gun in the hands of a person kills-a road does not kill. When we, as a people, start taking direct responsibility for harm done by humans, then maybe children like Acen will not have to die.
The second weekend in June 2016 was horrible. It was horrible because on June 10, 2016, Christina Grimmie was shot to death. It was horrible because on June 11, 2016, 49 people at the Pulse Club were shot to death. Now the number of victims from gun violence will include these deaths. The new total will include the death of these 50 people. These people who died will become hash marks in the never ending death count from gun violence. But these people are not hash marks they were sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, sons and daughters. Some were short, some were tall, some were serious some were carefree, some were men some were women. We the people of America must see each death from gun violence as individuals, as our brothers and our sisters. Only then can we see that we the people of America must make changes in our gun laws. We the people must have the courage to do the right thing. Change is slow but change only happens when there is a start. The start must happen. These victims are not hash marks, they were members of our community.