Gun Violence and Hadiya Pendleton
Is taking action now too little, too late?
On Saturday, First Lady Michelle Obama attended the funeral of Hadiya Pendleton, the young 15-year-old student from Chicago who was killed in a shooting, just days after participating in President Obama’s inauguration festivities. A young woman with a seemingly promising future ahead of her will have one of the greatest honors in life, but won’t be able to experience it. It’s been a much too tragic and yet common theme that has seen lives end and their names and faces live on forever. After the devastating shooting in Newtown, Conn., along with other senseless murders in major cities, legislators and leaders have finally sensed the urgency that many people have already been feeling.
Gun violence has been a hot topic of late, discussed on television, in newspapers, in board rooms, at dinner tables, and water coolers across the country. During a recent conversation, someone made a comment that gave me pause. The person said, “It’s too little, too late. There are already too many illegal guns on the streets. Even if you stop people from buying more, it won’t matter because people will still buy, sell and trade the illegal guns on the streets.” I wondered how true that statement was and a sense of hopelessness began to set in. But the fighter in me wouldn’t allow that rationale to be the end of the argument.
Since the Newtown, Conn. shooting there have reportedly been over 1,600 gun-related deaths, including that of Hadiya Pendleton. If we apply the thinking above, we should do nothing, and continue to see that number rise. But if we create a law that will prevent people from buying guns without background checks at private gun shows and address high count magazines, perhaps that number would decrease and, worst-case scenario, stay stagnant. There is absolutely more that needs to be done and we should try sensible approaches in order to save lives. It’s like a cancer patient deciding not to get chemotherapy because they will die someday anyhow. That thinking doesn’t even give you a chance at hope and certainly not at a prolonged life.
For Hadiya Pendleton and so many others, this new commitment to ending gun violence is too little and it is too late. But for the many lives that will potentially be saved by making sure that guns stay out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill, or that people don’t walk the streets with military style weaponry, this new wave of concern makes all the difference. If we can pass legislation that will save lives, we should do it, without hesitation. There have been many missed opportunities and signs that we need to address this problem. But we can’t focus on that. We have to stay fully committed to addressing gun violence whether the perpetrator is a mentally ill person or a trapped gang-banger who sees this as the only way out. In the fight for life, it is never too little and it is never too late. National Action Network is committed to this issue and it will be one of the many topics of discussion at our national convention. Click here, for more information on how you can join our convention for free.