The NAACP Pittsburgh Unit is sounding the alarm. The increasing number of victims of gun violence and their families has to stop.
We must join the hundreds of others who publicly go on record to declare that we must stop tolerating the senseless shooting in our neighborhoods, our communities and in our city. No, this is not a new alarm. It is a revisit to the need to sound the alarm to help wake up the community to the fact that we are feeding into the minds and desires of the enemy. To paraphrase the old adage: “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Bullets do not have eyes.”
Week after week, we have seen the devastating effects that gun violence is costing our community. Sadly, a shooting costs us economically, socially and, of course, personally. Whether at a bus stop, a party, in a car or at your home—whether rich or poor, Black or White, saint or sinner, a shooting has affected us!
We, the members of the NAACP Pittsburgh Unit, will stand strong and vigilant to try to help bring back some civility to the city and to our neighborhoods. We will be in the courtrooms during trials to ensure that the perpetrators understand fully the legal ramifications of their actions.
We must have communications with the district attorney, the judges, and with our local law enforcement agencies to determine why our young people feel that it is all right to take a life.
Our communities must come together in complete support of reeducating our youth about the value of life and the importance of family, crisis intervention and professional counseling when thoughts of harming others becomes acceptable behavior. We must ban forces to redirect the psyche of a killer. There is too much blood and personal pain in our neighborhoods. We no longer can carry the banner that says, “The enemy is killing our race.” We have taken over this task. We are killing ourselves.
We must learn how to better respond to bullying, personal rejection and negative group identification and rituals. We have heard too many mom’s and dad’s cries over the last 10 years to last a lifetime. We only chant, “We must take back our neighborhoods. We must stop the senseless gun violence.” We must learn how to live lives that will yield the answers to these chants. Now is the time. Now is the time.
We must stop having dead or maimed bodies lying in residential streets, at celebratory parties, outside schools, and other places that we use to call home or the neighborhood or our temporary residence. Yes, it takes a village to raise a child. Won’t you join the village of the NAACP to start making and marking safe ways to discuss ideological differences and identifying corrective behaviors that settle personal conflicts when they arise, not with a gun, but with a sound discussion about dissatisfaction and amicable resolutions? Let’s put down the guns. We need our young and not so young to be able to grow old. We must stop killing ourselves. The enemy is keeping count and smiling. We must bring tears to their eyes, not ours. We must ban together to save our communities of what could be some of our greatest resources… our informed, motivated, career driven, loving and hopeful teens and young adults.
As stated by our forefathers with the Declaration of Independence, the wants, the will and the hopes of the people should be invested into extending our survival. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, which among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
We want to make sure every individual has the opportunity to live life to the fullest without the threat of any individual taking your life. The NAACP Pittsburgh Unit supports the prosecution of any person convicted of gun violence to the fullest extent of the law and stands ready to work with others who can provide the services needed by our youths to help them before they kill.
We want to be an agent for change in thought patterns, in negative behaviors and in designing peaceful ways to take back our neighborhoods. Rhetoric is not enough. We hold a rally. Perpetrators of gun violence answer by killing more. There must be a way to stress deterrents and alternative options for settling disputes before another killing happens.
The killer’s life and their families’ lives suffer when killing takes place. There are no winners. We need to stop having to grieve.
We must teach all how to value our lives, our property and our freedom to travel our communities without the threat of expected gun violence.
(M. Gayle Moss is president of the NAACP Pittsburgh.)