The 2017-2020 EDUCATING FOR JUSTICE ISSUE: Gun Violence Prevention
In 2016, the American Medical Association declared gun violence a “public health crisis.” In 2017, Carlow University put gun violence prevention at the top of its social justice agenda. It is the inaugural “Educating for Justice Issue" of Carlow’s Social Justice Institutes.
I’m hoping that by telling John’s story, I’m hoping that people will stop with the violence, stop with the guns. Children need their fathers and mothers, and their uncles and their own children. I just want it to stop. - Stephanie
The most important thing to say to someone is that they’re not alone. You can feel extremely isolated when this happens to you, no matter how big or small your family is. Your individual pain is different from everyone else’s but you’re going through the same situation. - Cheyenne
There are those students we lost, and there are those who are the survivors. Each for different reasons: suicide, a fight with a loved one, a fight with a stranger, a fight over something, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or for no reason at all. The impacts of guns and gun violence on my students as student survivors are also many and varied. Sometimes they stop being students entirely. They might disconnect from classes and friends, leave, come back, rally, become activists, become quiet, become angry, or take on new studies or projects informed by their experiences. All of these students have left indelible marks on how I educate.
Carla, Health Services Director
My colleague lost her teenage son to gun violence. There were many sorrowful days, and I felt her grief daily; experiencing the life damaging effects of gun violence. It is my hope that this launch enlists our community members to recognize the urgent need for us to intervene. It is my understanding that prevention must begin early to be most effective; funds and efforts in teaching our youth how to resolve conflicts and problems without resorting to gun violence is essential.
I lost my cousin to gun violence in 2015. He was shot in the back of the head by a man he once called his friend. He was rushed to the hospital and died there shortly after midnight. Gun violence had always been an issue that I was passionate about, but now it hits closer to home than ever. My family was forever changed in the split second it took my cousin's murderer to pull the trigger. It's quite possibly one of the worst ways to lose a loved one, and I don't want anyone else to ever have to lose someone that way.
Jessica, Social Justice Institutes Director
It's hard to find words to discuss the impact the death of my cousins has had on me. These men were sons and fathers. My heart aches when I think of how their mothers, siblings, and children have had to adopt a new normal without them. It is hard to learn from experiences like these, but it is critical. I have learned to value my loved ones, to remind them as often as I can that I love them. I say all of the things to them that I would say if I had five more minutes with my cousins. I am committed to ensuring that fewer families have to experience this pain. We can reduce gun violence in our communities if we each do our part.
Lachelle, Alumni Engagement Director
I wrote this after my cousin died two years ago. It's just as fitting today.
No one should have to find out that a piece of them is gone from this earth because another person decided to use a gun. Mothers shouldn't have to bury babies, and families shouldn't have to lose faith in humanity. Please pray for our communities! Pray for our sons and daughters who don't believe, who don't understand that life is a gift, who walk every day in fear. They say it takes a village to raise a child. We all have the tools to build the village, but we choose to keep them in the toolbox. We all feel the effects when that village is shaken. It's time to start building stronger villages. Without those villages, a child has nowhere else to go.
"It's so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone." -John Steinbeck. As a student and advisee, I remember the passion and honesty of her arguments and her clear sense of good and evil. I remember her indomitable spirit, boundless energy, and positive outlook. I can see the sparkle in her eye, the bounce in her gait, and the goodness in her soul. I can hear her infectious laugh as it echoed in the hall, the commitment in her voice - ne'er a complaint, excuse, or anger - only the determination to rise above life's next hurdle to succeed. I can feel her authenticity, generosity of heart, and her unbridled warmth and compassion. In these - I but glimpsed the immeasurable treasures of a life senselessly lost. In these - I was touched by her humanity. Because of gun violence, all the lives she touched - and all those she had yet to touch - are darker.
Gun violence impacts multiple layers of society as it claims victims. As a crisis responder who works with public safety providers (dispatch, EMS, fire, and police) following critical incidents, I have witnessed the impact of violence on the men and women who answer the calls for help. The victims and their families become a part of a provider's history and are carried in their memory long after the call is over. The toll of the work becomes even harder when the loss of life is a colleague, killed in the line of duty, or a self-inflicted act when cumulative stressors overwhelm. The time has come to recognize the burden of emotional responsibility placed on public safety providers and to create a culture of self-care and safety.
Sheila, Sister of Mercy
Violence is one of the Critical Concerns of the Sisters of Mercy. We stand with victims of violence and work against the escalation of violence, whenever and wherever it occurs.
We work for peace through prayer, education, and personal and communal practices of nonviolence. We support nuclear disarmament, reduction of arms, and the use of dialogue instead of armed conflict. We work to prevent domestic violence and abuse of women and children, stop human trafficking and reduce violence in our communities. That leads us to advocate for commonsense gun violence prevention legislation, and an end to the death penalty.