Philadelphia City Councilman Curtis Jones Jr. issued this mini-essay encompassing his thoughts on gun violence in the context of Martin Luther King Jr.
Jones, as chair of Council's Committee on Public Safety, is likely to be central voice in the ongoing gun violence debate here in Philly. And now, Mr. Jones:
Examining the Culture of Gun Violence in America: We Are All Connected
As the nation celebrates the life and legacy of the late Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., I am reminded of a quote from his Letter From A Birmingham Jail, that, for me, provides perspective and clarity to the present national debate regarding gun legislation and safety reforms: “we are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. What affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
The unfathomable grief of the mothers of the children of Sandy Hook is forever linked with the grief of the mothers from Philadelphia neighborhoods and rural communities across this country that have also lost their children to senseless gun violence. Ironically, in a country that boasts ethnic, cultural, and religious diversity, the fear of death by gun violence, at the mall, a movie theater, a neighborhood party, or a public school now permeates our collective psyches and unites us all. We must as a nation take this opportunity to reflect on our culture of violence in this country and act with deliberate speed and purpose towards advancing holistic progressive change. I want to commend Mayor Michael Nutter for his announcement of the “Sandy Hook Principles,” corrective measures focused towards the divestment of Philadelphia pension funds in stocks and companies that support, promote or produce firearms. I support his bold action and look forward to introducing possible companion legislation in City Council.
As Chair of the Public Safety Committee in City Council, I am all too aware of the problems of gun violence in our city that, unfortunately, preceded Sandy Hook, and continues to this very day. I would be remiss in neglecting to uphold the anti-violence work done in Philadelphia prior to the tragedy at Sandy Hook. In conjunction with the Richard Johnson Anti-violence Center at St. Joseph University, and key Pennsylvania stakeholders, including scholars, legislators, non-profits, and law enforcement officials, I spent two days in December examining the impact of violent crime in Philadelphia. Entitled, “The Philadelphia Crime Summit: Building a Public Safety Agenda”, the conference featured comprehensive discussions about the causes, symptoms and manifestation of crime and gun violence in Philadelphia. With over 300 homicides in the city in 2012, this summit was the culmination of months and years of work in finding ways to effectively address gun violence. We will announce our findings through a White Paper over the next 30 days, and are pleased to join Mayor Nutter, Governor Cuomo of New York, Mayor Rahm Emanuel in Chicago, and others leaders across the nation in providing additional actions steps to keep our families safer in our communities.
We all have a stake in making our communities safer. Let’s join with others hoping to make gun violence the next social justice movement of which we can all become a part.
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