“Gun violence is…causing America to fall apart.”

Here at the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV), we are fortunate to be able to work with talented and passionate interns from across the country. This summer, Marcellas Williams, a student at the César Chávez Public Charter School for Public Policy in Washington, D.C., spent three weeks interning at the Coalition. Marcellas was a great asset to CSGV during his time here and contributed the following blog about his views on gun violence:

Gun violence is slowly but surely causing America to fall apart.

Southeast WashingtonI am an 11th grader living in Ward 8 in Washington, D.C., where there is a high rate of death due to gun violence. I feel as though young people who try to be something in life are often those who die for no apparent reason. Some teenagers in my community try to take the “Fast Money” route and get attention for having flashy accessories. They want the “Lavish Life.” That is where their downfall begins. Many teens believe that selling drugs or being a thug is the easiest way in life, but we refuse to look beyond that and realize that there is a better road to take. It’s sad to say, but I believe that in a way I’m contributing to violence, because I’m the type of person who believes that certain people deserve what they have in store for them.

There are young people who set goals and become experts in their career fields, but we sometimes don’t see that education leads to bigger and better chances in life. That means that even when you’re doing right, you aren’t always going to be rewarded by the outside world. You need to feel a sense of pride and satisfaction for yourself. If you think you deserve recognition, you might go back to your old ways (and figure you’ll get more recognition on the streets).

Statistics show that 97% of the District of Columbia’s crime guns come from outside states. 25% come from Virginia, 25% come from Maryland, and the rest come mainly from states in the Southeast. Traffickers buy the guns in these states and then drive them across the border into D.C. and re-sell them to criminals and youths. Federal gun laws, and the laws in these outside states, are just not strong enough to protect D.C. from gun trafficking. For example, more than 40 states allow individuals to sell guns to others without putting them through a background check! Meanwhile, the District of Columbia still doesn’t have a vote in Congress, which means that our elected officials don’t have any ability to change federal gun laws to make our city safer.

All told, 1,000 people across the world die every day due to gun violence, and until people sit down and take the time to realize that, things will never change. Here in America, we need to put aside our differences and come to an understanding that guns are not the way to solve problems. Living in Southeast Washington, I’ve seen people die for senseless reasons, such as the neighborhood they’re from. I wish the people who are involved in gun violence would realize they are only showing others their ignorance. They need to realize what they’ve put people’s families through. It’s time to choose education over guns and the “Lavish Life.”

I’ve heard many complaints about gun violence, but when are people going to actually come together and confront those who can change America and our urban communities? The good news is that there are many things we can do to take action collectively. Build a coalition of groups and individuals against violence; organize protests to impact our laws; draft proposals and send them out to D.C. Council Members, Mayor Adrian Fenty, and President Barack Obama; create petitions; get more young people involved, etc. We need to ask legislators the following question: “If you were in my shoes, how would you feel?”

A problem won’t solve itself—it takes people who are willing to help make change in America. We can start to make that change this very second; all we need is involvement from people who are concerned and willing to make a difference

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