Changing the Gun Debate
The right to life should be more important than the right to own a gun
“We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Before the Constitution was ever drafted, the Founding Fathers had a vision for what they wanted their lives to be like. In the Declaration of Independence, the right to life was the first right that they decided was God given to every person in this country. But the violence that plagues the black community these days keeps many of us from realizing our full life’s potential. Earlier this year, the Children’s Defense Fund released their Protect Children, Not Guns 2012 report and noted that the leading cause of death among Black teens, ages 15 to 19 in 2008 and 2009, was gun homicide. There are people who have died because someone intended to kill them and there are also people who have died because of a bullet intended for someone else. Whether their murders were intentional or unintentional, these people are not given an opportunity to fulfill the things that our Forefathers deemed granted by God.
During the second presidential debate, one person, toward the end of the debate, asked a question about gun control, especially as it pertained to AK-47s. President Obama and Governor Romney were given an opportunity to address the issue. During his remarks, President Obama expressed his belief that we have to enforce the laws that we have, make sure that we keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill, and ensure that background checks are done thoroughly. The president also noted that we need to do more to reduce violence, acknowledging that the problems in cities like Chicago aren’t usually the result of AK-47s but of “cheap handguns.”
When the attention turned to Governor Romney, he responded by saying that he is “not in favor of new pieces of legislation on guns and taking guns away or making certain guns illegal,” but wants to focus his attention on existing gun laws and changing the culture of violence. He proposed that the way to change the culture of violence is through education and making sure there are more two parent households.
While I appreciate what was said by one of these men, the reality is that we have to do more. The gun lobby is one of the most powerful in the nation. Many people who are for gun control feel that it is futile to try to fight the NRA, largely considered a behemoth in Washington. The Founding Fathers believed that people in this land had the right to be armed. However, before the men who created our Constitution decided that it must be law of the land for people to be able to own guns, they declared that we must have the right to life. Too many people have had their lives taken away senselessly and I have to believe that there is a greater right to life than there is to own a gun.
As this country decides on a new president, we must also decide that we value life. No matter who is elected, we must decide that we will hold the president responsible to ensure that our streets are safe and that violence has its own agenda within the White House and Administration. We can no longer strive to make sure that the streets of foreign lands are safe while our own neighborhoods are deteriorating. We can no longer make this a debate about Second Amendment rights. We have to change the debate to make sure that we focus on lives lost, promise that is not realized, potential not fulfilled. We should no longer allow our teens or anyone else in our communities to be victimized by guns. We must hold the president accountable to change the debate on gun control.