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.
5/18/18 is the day of another school shooting. Eight students and two teachers did not return home from Santa Fe High School because they were shot dead while at school. I ask America what are we going to do about the killing of our youth. Youth are gunned down in schools and on our city streets. The youth of America is the future of America. We adults are failing our youth by not making strict laws, by not rethinking the #2A. When will we start to stop the blood shed? No child should fear being shot- this is America. And shame on us – this is the America where children fear being shot.
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.
Where is our collective American conscience?
Jacob Hall went to school on September 28, 2016 ready to learn and ready to have a fun day. He was in first grade. Jacob was shot while playing in the playground. Jacob tragically died from the gunshot wound on Saturday, October 1, 2016. Jacob’s mom said that “He showed us how to love, laugh and smile even on days we did not want to,” Jacob lost his young life because a 14-year-old boy had a gun.
The family of Jacob Hall describe him as an example of “pure love.”
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.
Summer is a wonderful time of the year. The sun shines, children are out of school and families spend time together. Even in a hot city summer can be joyous. Children play on the sidewalks and parents sit on the stoops talking.
But it is summer 2016 and in Chicago parents will keep children inside. In Chicago communities are filled with fear. In Chicago gun violence is up 50%.
In Chicago on May 27, 2016 the residents and community leaders rallied together to take back the streets, to make their communities safe. On May 28, 2016, the police reported, 19 people had been shot, four shot dead, including a 15-year-old girl.
The people who make up the city of Chicago are scared of summer. They are scared to walk on the sidewalks; they are scared to let their children play in the sunshine.
Does the sun shine is Chicago or only produce a glare that shields the violence?
On June 17, 2015, nine people were shot and killed in the Emanuel AME Church, Charleston, South Carolina. The victims were part of a bible study group. The victims were peaceful citizens. The victims were sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, grandfathers, grandmothers, aunts, uncles and friends. Hate and violence should have no place in America. Is our collective memory so short that we forget the pain from each of the mass shootings? Do we just add nine more hash marks to the tally? Too many killings-too much hate-too much pain.
Compulsory education is law in every state in America. The intention was and is, to give our children the best chance to have a full and happy life. On December 13, 2013, Claire Davis went to school. She was in the hallway of The Arapahoe High School at 12:33 and she was shot. She died on December 21, 2013 from her injuries.
Education is thought to be the key to success and happiness and school was to be a sanctuary for learning. Learning is about the future. Learning is to take one beyond. Claire went to school to learn but she was shot in her school. Claire’s future was wiped out by a mentally imbalanced person with a gun.
America is left with a lesson to be learned from the killing of Claire. There was the same lesson to be learned from the Sandy Hook Elementary School killings on December. 14, 2012. The lesson is not an abstract concept. It is that guns, in the hands of the mentally imbalanced, are killing our youth. Guns in the hands of the mentally imbalanced are making our schools places where our young are fearful of violence. It is compulsory that America learns this lesson.