On June 12, 2019, NLC Broward had a panel discussion on one of the most important issues within Broward, which is the safety and security of our kids. They started by speaking on what gun violence looked like to them. We had some individuals from Moms Demand Action, a teen activist, and the Director of Equity and Diversity for Broward schools, speak on what gun violence looked like in Parkland, what it looked like for school drills and in the community, where there is no place to run. The panel discussed how gun violence is not a just a gun issue, but also a mental health, economic disparity, housing, family and educational issue.
Furthermore, it was determined that where gun violence occurs, matters (to the dollar bill), and the level of treatment in its current state is not equal. When we speak about practices to keep youth safe in more marginalized communities, as opposed to the those treated in more affluent areas, the treatment changes. Currently, safety is determined by someone’s financial position within the community. Tracy Merlin commented that, “We are letting people make decisions based on money.” In a country that claims to value people, this is simply unacceptable. This in turn has caused people to be de-sensitized to several and constant layers of trauma.
It was pointed out that guns in America is different than guns in another country such as Canada. In Canada, a person must declare that they have a gun if they are to go into another providence, they must have a background check done and each gun must be registered. In contrast, in America guns can be purchased at a gun show without any questions asked. Along with other legislative problems, such as individuals who do not have experience or knowledge of guns schools, and community gun-creating legislation on the matter, have been some of the few causes identified for America’s current position.
This panel was not here just to point out issues in the system but also had a couple of solutions. Chanice, a teen activist, mentioned the importance of representation and giving the voiceless a voice to make a significant change. The notion is that those in the community and school that have lived experience in the community are in a better position to present effective solutions. Other solutions included, allowing gun owners to have a voice on creating laws, having proper storage for guns, having a hearing court for gun possession, having more regulations for guns, creating equitable resources for each community and most importantly listening to each other to maintain humanity.
We can all agree that safety and security for our community and our children is important. If we listen, for solutions, the hope is for solutions that will save the life of someone who could very well be your mother, father, confidant, or child. Two-thirds of gun violence are actually a result of suicides. That alone speaks volumes to the importance of mental health and listening to one another. This panel started by mentioning that it takes a village to make a difference. By listening to each other a difference can be made.