Understanding perspectives on gun violence

Mass shootings are regularly highlighted in the media, and they prompt important conversations regarding U.S. gun policy and public safety. However, The American public  fails to acknowledge that the majority of gun deaths and injuries do not stem from mass shootings but are a result of homicides, suicides and accidents. It is crucial to pursue policies that prevent those daily occurrences as well as mass shootings.

Furthermore, the controversy and over-generalizations surrounding gun violence have prevented us from exploring the issue in depth. One narrative suggests that strengthening gun policies will take away the freedom to carry a weapon that U.S. citizens are guaranteed by the Second Amendment.  Another narrative supports eliminating civilian access to weapons altogether. Others suggest something in between.

It is important to remember that people’s perspectives are shaped by their experiences. Solutions to gun violence must be sensitive to its victims and witnesses. Those who have lost loved ones to gun violence or are gun violence survivors have many suggestions for gun policies, such as not allowing handguns in vehicles or a better police presence in their neighborhood. Although these are not the policy solutions that are usually discussed, these individuals’ suggestions focus on policies that would have preserved the lives of their family members.

In Philadelphia, Pa., MCC supports Anabaptist churches as they speak out about the great cost of gun violence in their communities and seek to prevent it. (Photo courtesy of Kemah C. Washington)

In 2015, I was robbed and beaten by three men while walking home in my neighborhood. Although I struggled with anxiety and fear for several months following the incident, I wanted help for the men who attacked me in desperation. This led me to support policies to address the alarming rates of poverty and drug abuse in the country.

We must encourage members of Congress to support common-sense gun policies that would promote safe and responsible gun ownership including background checks, banning military-style assault weapons and requiring safe storage measures. Several policies have been introduced that would, if passed, prevent gun violence. The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act would provide law enforcement with more tools to remove firearms from those with domestic abuse charges.

As we work for common-sense gun policies, continue to pray for families that have been changed irreversibly due to gun violence. Let us abide by God’s call for kindness toward one another (Ephesians 4:32) as we approach this and other controversial issues.


Click here for more by Cherelle M. Dessus.