When I was about eight, my brother was shot. He was walking in Boston, and got caught in some crossfire. He was in college then, and when he came home over the summer some months later, he was walking with a cane still. He let me run my small index finger over the shiny circular scar on his thigh. Even through the insulation of innocence that provided me with outward equanimity, I felt the impact of this crime and injury. I was shocked. I felt vulnerable. I was concerned. Through it all, I realized that gun violence was not “out there” but could be anywhere. Painfully, that year it was with my family.
When my family moved to Indianapolis in 2013, I again knew the proximity of guns to my family’s life. Within an 18-month period, four people were killed by gun violence within a block and half of our home. One was a four-year-old attending a family birthday party. My spouse and I had agreed that we would call and report gun shots, and we did, often weekly. One time, I held our young daughter in the bathtub so frightened; I knew the shots were so close they could penetrate our house. Our neighbor was shooting with an semi-automatic rifle at a bothersome raccoon.
My story is our story. Some of us know the pain of gun-inflicted violence more intimately and achingly than others. A few years ago I lead a service for a young man who was shot at a party when he tried to de-escalate an argument. I held his mother, as she shook while others offered testimonials in his honor. That was one person; one among hundreds who are killed in our city every year. Though Chicago’s homicide rate gains national, damning headlines every year, Indianapolis has more violent crime than Chicago does; our rate is almost triple the national average. We are expected to have a record number of homicides for the fifth consecutive year. Seven people were killed within 24 hours just earlier this month. Indianapolis is trending in the wrong direction. More then trends and figures though, these are people in our community. They were held as babes. They went to our schools. The our attended churches. They had families.
You are invited to learn more and help chart a new course forward. Tonight from 5-8pm, March for Our Lives is leading an intergenerational art build to help generate support for reducing gun violence. On Sunday, April 28, at 1pm, we are hosting Igor Volsky, executive director and founder of Guns Down America, among other panelists. Guns Down America is traveling across the country to organize action-driven town halls that answer the question: what can I do to help reduce gun deaths in America? Perhaps together, by acting this year, we can chart a course forward where the sacredness of human life is honored by greater safety and reduced harm for our collective people. Hope you can come and help make this happen. rful Accent 6;\