President Young's Perspective on Gun Control

By Dr. Jerry Young, NBC, USA, Inc. President |  March 6, 2018

Weapons of Mass Destruction or Common Sense Gun Control
“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child:  but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”  I Corinthians 13: 11 KJV.

     As Christians and adults, our responsibility is to ensure to the best of our ability, that every child will be able to live up to his or her potential, grow and prosper into adulthood.  When we ignore our responsibilities, especially when we can influence the lives of children for their betterment, it is as though we, as adults, have not “put away childish things.”    In this instance, neglecting and deflecting the issue of common sense gun control is a childish act.  What is equally disheartening is that the lives of young people in this country have been shortened by senseless and preventable gun violence.  Moreover, the children who have witnessed these senseless and egregious acts were forced to become adults, not by age, but because of preventable tragedies.  What is a beacon of hope, however, is the wisdom and courage of young teenagers to propose on the world’s stage common sense gun control. 

     The imagery of young elementary school children being shot down, wounded, and killed; the imagery of those children who witnessed the lives of their classmates and friends being murdered will forever stain my memory.  Likewise, the passionate and prolific words of teenagers in Parkland, Florida, will forever be etched in my thoughts such as those of Lorenzo Prado who said, “To let these victims’ lives be taken without any change in return is an act of treason to our great country.”   If these words do not resonate with you, then hopefully the words of Parkland survivor, Florence Yared, will speak to your hearts, “We cannot protect our guns before we protect our children. “  It is imperative that responsible adult citizens of our country not only listen and pray for these young people, we must follow their direction to ensure that for generations to come there will be laws in place with the potential to prevent some of the saddest days in America’s history.

            As the slain and survivors of Parkland, Florida are at the forefront of our thoughts, I reflect back on the last 20 years.  There has been a rise in the number of mass shootings within the United States, three of which occurred between June and November 2017:  58 killed in Las Vegas in October. 49 killed in Orlando in June 2016; 26 killed in Sutherland Texas in November and the most recent killing of 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.  Sadly, there have been 18 school shootings within the past year, yet we, as a country are no closer to legislation that bans access to weapons of mass destruction by citizens within our country.  Though each incident evoked a myriad of emotions across the country, what they have failed to produce is a concerted effort to end or minimize the occurrence of such monstrous killings.

     The frequency of these events and the inaction on the part of our leadership to engage proactive measures with the potential to minimize if not eradicate such odious acts begs the questions: Have we created a climate that has become conducive to acts of gun violence within our country? Do the tenor and tone set by our leaders give impetus to these acts of violence?  Is being re-elected more valuable than the lives of our children?  Do our legislative bodies serve the people or their own selfish political interests?  Should weapons of mass destruction such as the AR 15, a weapon designed for war, be among guns purchased by teenagers or adults?

     It is disheartening that our schools that house our children and places of worship considered most sacred here and around the world are yet becoming places where mass killings occur here in America.  It is morally appalling that little to no effort to enact laws on gun control exist to help ensure places of worship and our schools are indeed safe havens.  I question the moral integrity of our leaders when not even places of worship nor our schools and for that matter no place on American soil is free of the fear of gun violence.  And yet our leaders are afraid to enact common sense gun control legislation.

     Supporters of the RTC (Right to Carry) law refer to the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution that protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms.  It becomes important as we wrestle with this issue, for us to look back at the historicity or “the signs of the time” when our forefathers crafted the 2nd Amendment.  In December 1791 when our forefathers penned this amendment, according to an article in the June 2016 Washington Post, “The typical firearms of the day were muskets and flintlock pistols. They could hold a single round at a time, and a skilled shooter could hope to get off three or possibly four rounds in a minute of firing. By all accounts they were not particularly accurate either.”  Compare this to the weapon used in the Las Vegas shooting in October that had the capability to shoot 60-100 rounds, killed 58 people and injured hundreds in a matter of minutes, or to the AR15 semi-automatic rifle, countless magazines and high-powered bullets purchased by a troubled teenager who subsequently killed students and adults.  Could this type of powerful weapon, be indicative of what our forefathers had in mind when they drafted the 2nd   Amendment?  I think not!

     Although some view gun control as an infringement on the 2nd amendment, the push for gun control is not about taking away the 2nd amendment right; it is about creating safer environments for our citizens.  Considering the weaponry used for many of the mass killings in America, we find that the type of guns used are high powered assault weapons designed for military usage.  The issue is not about owning guns but about common sense gun control; these type of weapons should not be available for usage by our citizenry.  It is therefore, incumbent upon congress and everyone else to look at common sense gun control. In fact, one of the functions of government is to protect its citizens from foreign and domestic threats. It is disingenuous to argue or skirt the issue. 

     The survivors of the recent killing of 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, have called our legislators and indeed our nation to task by their courageous and compelling conversations, their passionate and poignant pleas.  Uppermost in our hearts, our minds and our wills should be the protection of our children, our families and yes, our inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  We must not only give voice to our children, we must embrace them, hear them and act on their behalf. Jesus said in Matthew 19:14, “Suffer the little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” which gives impetus to our hearing and heeding the words of Parkland student, Florence Yared, when she stated, “We cannot protect our guns before we protect our children.   Is a congressman or congresswoman’s reelection more important or valuable than the lives of our children?  To pose or ponder such a question is indeed an indictment of the leadership of our nation.
God Help US!!!

Yours in the ministry and mission of Christ,

Jerry Young, President
National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.