Trigger Warning: Mentions of gun violence, death, and rape
More than 500 people die every day as a consequence of gun violence. In the US, nearly 1 in 5 adults have lost someone to firearms. People need to be able to go to places of education, recreation, and work without the fear of a possible mass shooting. Those who have already been through the terrifying trauma of a shooting deserve justice. We’re delving into how we, through reading, can do our part in raising awareness and having an impact on reducing gun violence around the world.
Fighting The Good Fight
Every statistic you’ll hear about on Gun Violence points to a call for regulation, control, and for action.
However, these statistics do not put us in the place of those who have suffered the immense mental and physical trauma of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. We can call for stricter regulations and control, but at the end of the day, it is not in our hands. So what is in our hands? Empathy. Empathy is our way of fighting for victims of gun violence, and here are four memoirs that are poignant narratives of first-hand experience of gun violence that attempt to convey the traumas endured.
An American Summer: Love And Death In Chicago by Alex Kotlowitz
Alex Kotlowitz chronicles his experiences in Chicago, where injuries and death by firearms are rampant. It comprises a collection of several personal stories about gun violence in America. Interestingly, it also consists of the story of a man who has a young teenager who killed a gang member and how years later, he is still trying to grapple with what he had done.
Parkland: Birth Of A Movement by Dave Cullen
On 14th February 2018, Parkland, a small town in South Florida, was hit with the deadliest school mass shooting in American History. There was something profound in the reaction to the shootings that compelled Dave Cullen to go back to reporting about a school shooting—something he swore he’d never do after he suffered PTSD due to Columbine.
He had untethered access to the victims of the shootings and their parents. The book talks about how they navigated friendships that got complicated in light of the shootings, AP exams, applying to colleges, and basically getting back to normal life.
It is an in-depth view into the behind-the-scenes of the deadliest school mass shooting in America. It shows how children who refuse to succumb to victimhood fight their way back into normalcy after they lost 17 of their classmates and teachers.
Shattered: Reclaiming a Life Torn Apart By Violence by Debra Puglisi Sharp
In 1998, a factory worker broke into Debra Puglisi’s house with a gun. Her husband was shot and killed; she was raped, abused, and kidnapped. After 5 days of being tied in the captor’s house, she found courage in thoughts of her children. She broke free from her restraints and called 911. In her book, she tries to make sense of everything she has been through and everything her children have been through. Her book is a cry for action. A cocaine addict had access to a gun and tore her life apart. She calls for gun control and for justice for victims of violence and rape.
If I Don’t Make It, I Love You: Survivors In The Aftermaths Of School Shootings by Amye Archer and Loren Kleinman
“If I don’t make it, I love you,” was a text sent by a 15-year-old girl hiding in a cupboard during the deadliest school mass shooting in Parkland, Florida.
From the 1996 UT Austin shooting through to the 2018 Santa Fe shootings, this book is a collection of 60 personal stories of school shootings collected over a 50-year period.
These are the stories of survivors, those who have had to grieve their children, friends, and teachers.
A Ways To Go But Here Is A Start:
Over the years, several reforms have come into place to impose gun control. As of 2021, 19 states have red flag laws which allow the temporary removal of firearms from anyone who is deemed a risk to themselves or others.
States that include Maryland, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and California have banned or restricted the sale and possession of assault weapons.
According to National Instant Criminal Background Checks System (NICS), they have put into place measures to identify people with mental health issues and put restrictions on them buying firearms.
Communities around the world have been instrumental in gun control. They have created programs to educate people on the effects of firearms in the wrong hands, outreach, and support to those who have been affected by it.
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