We are three typical Americans. One of us lost his father when a young man with a gun killed him as he opened his store in Chicago. Another of us is the son of an NYPD officer, who worried every day as his father left for work, and then became a pastor in what once were the “killing fields” of East New York, burying young men gunned down in the surrounding streets. A third grew up in a tough Chicago neighborhood and woke up one morning in 1965 to see the faces of three of his teenage neighbors, 15 and 16 years old, on the front page of the morning paper. They had gone out the night before, high on pep pills, and shot to death an elderly man for the $17 in his pocket.
We are three very different people, from different places, with different religious traditions, but we are bound together, in part, by the common denominator of gun violence, of sudden and stunning death.
It’s clear what can’t be done about gun violence because of the political protection provided by those who value gun possession over the lives of innocent shoppers and schoolchildren. They are practicing a modern form of idolatry. The idol is the gun and all the profit made by those who make, sell and distribute guns.
So there’s no point in trying to convert the idol worshipers. They have chosen their object of adoration. No massacre, no casualty counts of 9- and 10-year-olds or senior citizen food shoppers will shake their faith. There’s also no point in calling for changes that well-funded and entrenched political forces steadfastly refuse to make. They are intractable. They are resistant to any moral or ethical or pragmatic challenge.
So we don’t want to waste another minute stuck in the latest cycle of futility. Instead, we are writing to challenge those who do value life over gun-delivered death to take the steps that can be made in spite of right-wing opposition.
One such step is identifying those gun shops that supply these weapons to killers and would-be killers and forcing them to shut down. A very small fraction of gun dealers, probably less than 5%, supply the overwhelming majority of weapons that show up at crime scenes. The market works at its demonic best, with killers quickly learning which gun dealers are willing to sell the most destructive weapons to the most dangerous individuals. The word spreads fast, as do the guns.
But the same market that enables them to prosper can be used to shut the bad-apple gun dealers down. The nation’s police and sheriff departments, as well as federal military and law enforcement agencies, can require that the gun makers who wish to do business with these governmental bodies stop doing business with the bad-apple dealers.
Governments purchase about four out of every 10 guns sold in the U.S. As soon as public-sector gun purchasers announce this policy, key players in the gun industry will be forced to make tough choices. They say they prefer self-regulation to strong laws? Let’s see if they’re able to weed out the worst actors in their industry. This is something that can be done. And New York City and New York State, Mayor Adams and Gov. Hochul, should be front and center in this effort: Use not only your bully pulpits, but your leverage.
The same thing goes for gun safety innovations. Integrating effective security technology into weapons would stop many of the accidental deaths of children who grab an adult’s gun, would make stolen guns unusable, and would reduce or end the harm done to police by those who wrest their weapons away from them and fire. This can be done and should be done. And New York City and New York State should lead the way here as well.
We realize that these are limited measures, given the hundreds of millions of guns already circulating in America. We know that there will be other days of gun-driven violence and death ahead. But if we can prod gun manufacturers into no longer supplying the worst of the gun dealers with weaponry, and start equipping guns with state-of-the-art safety technologies, then the next violent 18-year-old may not get his hands on a killing machine. The next classroom may not be a scene of carnage. The next community may not be thrown into the living hell that Newtown and Buffalo and Uvalde are experiencing.
Since 1965, the toxic combination of violent young men and guns have scarred our lives — and the lives of our communities. Pragmatic measures to slow and eventually stop this flow are possible to enact. But will those who claim to want real change do something?
Brawley is the senior pastor of St. Paul Community Baptist Church and co-chair of East Brooklyn Congregations and Metro IAF. Mosbacher is the senior rabbi of Temple Shaaray Tefila and a leader of Manhattan Together/Metro IAF. Gecan is senior adviser to the leaders of Metro IAF.
I begin my book - Sometimes David Wins - with the Ludlow Massacre, in 1914 during the Coal Field War in Southern Colorado. Part of my motivation derives from the uncertain role my grandfather, Silas Gilbert Pierson, an executive with Colorado Fuel and Iron (CF&I), played as the event unfolded. Another part flows from Ludlow's prominence in labor history and United Mine Workers of America organizing.
You can pre-order my book here: https://actapublications.com/sometimes-david-wins/
I've been getting questions about when my new book, Sometimes David Wins, will be published. As of now it looks like May 30, 2022. Between now and then If you want a copy it's best to pre-order to be sure you get one:
Pre-order David Sometimes Wins:
Pre-order David Sometimes Wins:
TOGETHER NEW ORLEANS TO UNVEIL COMMUNITY LIGHTHOUSE PLAN AT COUNCIL
Releases two-minute video short TUESDAY, MARCH 22, 10AM
CITY COUNCIL CLIMATE & SUSTAINABILITY COMMITTEE
CITY HALL, 1300 PERDIDO STREET
To confirm your attendance at the hearing, click here
To watch the video short on the Community Lighthouse Project, click here
(available after 2pm Saturday)
New Orleans - It's been in the works since the days immediately after Hurricane Ida, but the Community Lighthouse Project will get its first formal unveiling this Tuesday, March 22nd at New Orleans' City Council.
The Community Lighthouse idea, a brain-child of Together New Orleans, is an ambitious plan to build a network of resiliency hubs at eighty-five community organizations and congregations across South Louisiana, each with commercial-scale solar and backup battery storage to serve as response hubs in the wake of a disaster.
The project, as its organizers are quick to point out, is still in an early phase of development, but it's getting plenty of street buzz and mainstream recognition already.It received prominent mention in a Wall Street Journal feature story last month about back-up power systems across the country.
And last week, the US Department of Energy selected the Community Lighthouse Project to be one of fourteen proposals nationally to receive technical assistance under its Energy Storage for Social Equity initiative.
This Tuesday, March 22nd at 10am, at the invitation of At-large Council Member and Committee Chair Helena Moreno, the Community Lighthouse Project will get its most thorough public airing to date at City Council's Climate and Sustainability Committee.
In advance of the hearing, Together New Orleans is releasing a two-minute video short about the plan which will be available on youtube after 2pm Saturday.
Walt Whitman -- Democratic Vistas (1867)
"America, if eligible at all to downfall and ruin, is eligible within herself, not without; for I see clearly that the combined foreign world could not beat her down. But these savage, wolfish parties alarm me. Owning no law but their own will, more and more combative, less and less tolerant of the idea of ensemble and of equal brotherhood......It is the fashion of dilettants [sic] and fops (perhaps I myself am not guiltless) to decry the whole formulation of the active politics of America, as beyond redemption, and to be carefully kept away from. See that you do not fall into this error. America, it may be, is doing very well upon the whole, notwithstanding these antics of the parties and their leaders, these half-brained nominees, the many ignorant ballots, and many elected failures and blatherers."
Building the Institutions for Revolt
Posted on Jan 15, 2017
By Chris Hedges
Michael Gecan, Senior Advisor, Industrial Areas Foundation
Don died earlier this month. Here is his obituary: https://maranamortuarycemetery.com/obituary/donald-h-shelton/