A piece from Marian Wright Edelman, the president of the Children’s Defense Fund, details the devastating impact gun violence has had on our nation’s children. As an example, she offers us the story of Ka’nard Allen of New Orleans, Louisiana. On May 29, 2012, he celebrated his tenth birthday at his grandmother’s house, where friends and family were playing games. Four young men, who police said were trying to kill members of a rival group at or near the party, fired into the gathering with guns and an AK-47. Ka’nard was hit in the calf and neck, and his five-year-old cousin Brianna was killed.
The Allens weren’t the only ones hurt by the spray of bullets. “The reach and power of the assault rifle was so great that a bullet fired near the party also struck and killed Shawanna Pierce, 33, in her car at a stop sign three blocks away,leaving three young boys without a mother,” writes Edelman.
The older Pierce boys’ grades suffered after that, and are only beginning to improve two years later. Her youngest, now three, doesn’t remember his mother.
Ka’nard Allen, meanwhile, is still afraid. “I always think somebody wants to shoot me,” he said.
Even children who aren’t directly affected by gun violence experience feelings of anxiety, anger, and depression which can impact their performance in school and their long-term outlook on life.
Dr. Kenneth Hardy, a professor of Family Therapy at Drexel University, believes that “the reason disrespect is so often a trigger point [for perpetrators of violent crimes] relates to the devaluation—the ‘constant lacerations to dignity’—of poor young Black males who are considered a threat and a problem, with the worst rather than the best expected of them.”
We must do right by our children. Let’s help stem the tide of violence and despair by promoting commonsense gun legislation.