Tag Archives: Legislation

Hadiya’s Wound Cried Out

The New York Times’ blogger, Joe Nocera, has been running a feature column on his blog at NYTimes.com. He calls it “The Gun Report” and it contains a daily selection of reports of gun violence in the media. He has a daily report during the work week and then he does a weekend report. It makes for sad reading. Of course, we must rely on the media for our gun violence data because there is no truly centralized means of reporting. Oh, they have a piecemeal system that they manage to gather the minimum data with, but because of restrictions placed on the CDC regarding the research that they are allowed to do and the lack of a permanent ATF director these past seven years, there is no centralized and/or standardized means of reporting. We do know how many people die from firearms in the aggregate, but the information that we need—the details that would allow us to approach gun violence as a systemic problem rather than an individual one—is simply unavailable. The human cost as well as the attendant fiscal and social costs of gun violence can be alleviated by approaching it as a public health issue. However, we don’t have the data necessary.

If you’re wondering about my credentials and whether or not my facts are accurate, I understand. I will soon be posting more information on gun violence and reform. While I am not an epidemiologist or strictly speaking a social scientist, I am an extremely experience and well-trained researcher with sharply honed critical thinking skills. I have spent the past two months immersing myself in the scholarship, research, opinion, law, history, and data dealing with gun violence, injury, crime, and reform. I know more about the effects of firearms as tools of destruction and as touchstones of ideology than I ever wanted to know. I know the ins and outs of the NRA and enough details about firearm manufacturers to make me dislike Wayne LaPierre even more than I already did. I have been and continue to scour the crime pages of every major newspaper in South Carolina daily for news reports involving guns and keep a record of gun violence by clipping those pages into a software program. I supplement that with several news alert systems that pull reports of items that contain both “South Carolina” and “gun” or “shooting” within the text. The people who know about this project frequently send me emails alerting me to news that they’ve heard or articles they’ve read or news they’ve seen on television.

So, since I’m not an epidemiologist, sociologist, or in a related field that would make my gun violence research a logical choice, the next question would be why am I researching gun violence and even more so, why am I researching it so thoroughly and with such passion. In response, I’d say that there are a lot of reasons, but oddly it wasn’t Newtown that was the instigating factor although it was one of the reasons. Of course I was pained and horrified by the events in Newtown. The tragedy of those beautiful lives lost weighed on my soul as did the losses that they made me remember—the many children lost daily in frequently violent urban areas whose loss is mostly quiet. Certainly their deaths are not national news and they do not occupy the national consciousness for months, and yet they are no less precious in spite of our negligence, those of us who are privileged enough to not live in areas where gunfire is part of the soundtrack of our lives and where waiting at a bus stop can be as dangerous as Fallujah. and nor are they less precious for the lack of economic and pigment and race privilege that typically has much to do with whether your environment is filled with the cacophony of bullets or the lullaby of crickets and so this is why the first of the two instigating factors moved me to action. In spite of my personal depression, the death of Hadiya Pendleton added another wound to the injured social fabric of the world we live in, the one that is so filled with acts and words of violence. I knew at that point that I needed to do something to fight back against those who would continue to flood our world with instruments whose sole purpose is to cause death. Yes, violence exists, but guns make its execution so simple and easy. So as I imagined that I had seen Hadiya while I watched the second inauguration of President Obama while Sasha and Melia joked with each other on a day that was an immensely happy one for me and probably an absolutely amazing one for her, I also imagined her body ripped through with the wounds made by those bullets and in that moment and smallest of actions, a squeeze of a finger, a young life and promising future was extinguished. Those wounds that ended Hadiya’s life cried out to be heard; they cried out for a voice. The wound in our social fabric demanded a voice. The research and what I am able to say and write as a result gives them a voice—one that is strong and confident. Continue Reading →