Javier Card, our Credible Messenger Behind Bars, has written a new Guest Post for our blog about the history behind Gun Violence Awareness Month, starting in June.

Gun Violence Awareness Month was created in an effort to raise awareness surrounding the issue of needless and senseless gun violence in New York’s communities with the goal of keeping citizens and their community safe. Javier Card’s post will kick off our participation and support for Gun Violence Awareness Month, where we will support the goals of promoting greater awareness about gun violence and gun safety, concentrating annual heightened attention to gun violence during the summer months, when gun violence typically increases, and bringing citizens and community leaders together to discuss ways to make our communities healthier.

 

“Greetings S.O.S. Family,

Once again it’s the voice of redemption coming to you live and direct from within “The belly of the beast.” This time I would like to remind you that Gun Violence Awareness Month is approaching. Even though it’s called awareness month, it is observed from May 30th until the first week of Labor Day. For thoes that are not familiar with the origins of the commemoration it all started in 2013 when a group of Chicago teens came together to celebrate the life of their slain friend Hadiya Pendelton by wearing the color orange. Hadiya was claimed by gun violence just days after marching in President Obama’s second inaugural parade. She was also a stellar student musician who had the honor of playing at the inauguration. Her friends chose the color orange for two reasons:

  1. Hunters wear orange to announce themselves to other hunters when out in the woods.
  2. Orange acknowledges that America has a proud heritage of responsible gun ownership, while also reflecting the value of human life. It initially became known as the Wear Orange Movement but eventually was called National Gun Violence Awareness Day.

This group of teens courage was so powerful that it reached an incredible 220 million people in just one day. Also in 2013 New York made history by becoming the first state in the nation to designate an entire month to the issue of gun violence. Gun violence Awareness month has three main goals:

  1. To promote greater awareness about gun violence and gun safety
  2. To concentrate annual and heighten attention to gun violence during the summer months when gun violence typically increases
  3. To bring citizens and community leaders together to discuss ways to make our community healthier

I often wonder how did we have access to so many guns during the crack epidemic? As I expressed in my previous letter, words cannot describe how remorseful I am for my past actions. Nothing can justify the pain and suffering I’ve caused, but are the perpetrators of gun violence the only ones that should be held accountable? What about the gun industry, the National Riffle Association, and the Lobbyists they hire to oppose stricter gun laws? Gun control is defined as “Laws or policies that regulate within a jurisdiction the manufacture, sale, transfer, possession, modification or use of firearms by civilians.”

Support gun violence awareness wherever you are. Become proactive. The next person to be the victim of gun violence could be your child, parent or friend, or even you. This is a collective issue. Here are some statistics that will blow your mind:

Every Day on Average (ages 0-19)

-Every day, 48 children and teens are shot in murders, assaults, suicides and suicide attempts, unintentional shootings, and police intervention

-Every Day on Average (all ages)

-Every day, 309 people in America are shot in murders, assaults, suicides and suicide attempts, unintentional shootings, and police intervention

-Every day, 93 people die from gun violence

In One Year on Average (ages 0-19)

-17,383 American children and teens are shot in murders, assaults, suicides and suicide attempts, unintentional shootings, or by police intervention

-2,647 kids die by gun violence

In One Year on Average (all ages)

-112,695 people in America are shot in murders, assaults, suicides and suicide attempts, unintentional shootings, or by police intervention

-33, 880 people die from gun violence

-Between the years 2001-2010, more people die in Chicago than in Afghanistan

-59% of students between grades 6-12 know where to find a gun within 24 hours

-1 in every 5 youth murdered in Chicago is under 18

-In the 2006-2007 school year 2,695 public school students across the country were expelled for bringing a firearm to school: 345 of them in Elementary schools, according to the Department of Education

-In a review of mass shootings in the U.S., 85 mass shootings occurred since 1982, from which 71 semiautomatic handguns, 20 assaults weapons, and 42 weapons with high magazine capacity were recovered

-There are 350 million guns in circulation in the U.S.- approximately 113 guns for every 100 people

-More than 75% of first and second graders know where their parents keep their firearms and 36% admitted handling the weapons, contradicting their parent’s reports

-According to the FBI, gun related violence is linked to gun ownership and is not a function or by product of crime. Their study indicates that more than 90% of gun related death were not part of a commission of a crime.

 

-Javier Card”