“By our readiness to allow arms to be purchased at will and fired at whim, we have created an atmosphere in which violence and hatred have become popular past times.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Although King was referring to the political climate of the civil rights era in which he worked to effect change for the African American people as well as the underprivileged, a similar statement could be made for our current society.
In 2019, according to the Savannah Morning News, the state of Georgia accrued over $2.8 billion in costs related to gun violence. Twenty-five reported homicides took place all over Savannah that year, particularly in central Savannah. Twelve of these homicides resulted from mass shootings. Since 2017, Georgia has exported guns utilized in crime over twice the national rate and almost twice the rate as other state-imported guns utilized in various crimes.
Savannah’s new mayor and alumnus of Savannah State University Van Johnson is working on making the city a safer place for everyone, pushing for safety measures across the city and gun licenses for firearm owners. Students across our campus have spoken out about their insecurities regarding campus safety and the lack of crisis and trauma awareness on campus as several armed robberies and a shooting, though not fatal, still took place during the conclusion of the 2018 school semester.
Firearms are a sensitive subject among a variety of demographics. Gov. Brian Kemp himself posed with a shotgun in one of his declared intentionally “politically incorrect” campaign advertisements. Richmond, Va., played host to a gun-rights rally intending to protest individuals who were not in support of President Trump and those who stand behind legal rulings that would reduce access to the weapons. This past Friday, Kentucky gun rights activists were allowed into the Frankfort capitol around metal detectors as they wore camouflage and carried semi-automatic weapons throughout the building.
Advocates for gun control will recall that 30 members of the black nationalist group the Black Panthers stood in peaceful demonstration in a similar manner to those in Kentucky, armed with a variety of arms stating, “The time has come for black people to arm themselves.”
California governor Ronald Reagan and other politicians fearfully passed a bill only months later that barred any open carry of loaded arms within the California capitol building, making it clear to many that there seemed to be a double standard among people groups and their second amendment rights.
This year’s focus for the American celebration of Black History Month is titled “African Americans and the Vote” since its the 150th anniversary of the 15th amendment, which allowed African American men to vote after the Civil War.
The subject of guns and gun violence is a multi-layered one, and inevitably one that must be tackled in the upcoming elections we face in November. Know your rights, know your perspectives, know your local policies, vote, and civically engage accordingly.