Someone dies from gun violence every 16 minutes in America.
YOU CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT is a series of frank interviews with passionate men and women who are leaders, activists and influencers on the subject of gun violence in America. Some have been my teachers, champions and support system on this very complicated and emotional journey and some I have admired from afar for their bravery, audacity and indomitable commitment to the cause. Although our backgrounds, experiences and the challenges we face in our work are as complex as the causes and the solutions to this epidemic, all have shown that there is more that can be done to end this senseless loss of human life.
I am proud to introduce you to each of them and excited to share their insights into how all of us can be a part of the solution to Raise The Caliber of our communities.
Interview No. 3
Name: Jennifer Mascia
Occupation/Title: Staff writer, The Trace www.thetrace.org
Race/Nationality: Caucasian/American. My father was Italian and my mother was a Russian Jew.
Where do you live? Harlem, New York, 2000 to present.
What quote do you live by?
"Sometimes the most radical thing you can do is report the facts." A reader of The Gun Report once posted that in the comments, and it's the guts of journalism, essentially.
What are you most proud of about your work/life?
That it doesn't feel like work because I love what I do.
What is the biggest challenge you face in your work?
Information is routinely hidden from the public by powerful people with a financial interest in the business of guns.
Why do you think we have such a problem with gun violence in America?
Guns, which are essentially impulse buys, are too easy to get, and Americans have a spending problem. It's a toxic combination.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about why we have such a problem with gun violence in America?
"Gangbangers will always get guns." That may be true, but there are ways to choke off the supply. And gang murders only account for a fraction of total annual gun deaths in America.
Do you think there is a law that the government could enact that would really make a difference in reducing gun violence and building safe communities?
Add cluster-B personality disorders like borderline, narcissistic and sociopathy -- which tend to lend themselves to violent behaviors -- to the list of criteria for banning gun purchases, and you will likely see a reduction in domestic violence shooting deaths. Right now there's only one federal standard for prohibiting gun purchases on the basis of mental health (though some states are stricter): A judge must order you to a mental institution against your will. That's it. I know a lot of people who shouldn't have guns and don't rise to that level of crazy.
What are three things the average American citizen can do to "Raise The Caliber" of their community?
Talk about gun safety with your family and friends. Let's destigmatize the conversation. There is no shame in ensuring that our homes and cars are safe environments for our children, and that the homes and cars of our loved ones are safe, as well.
Is there a must read book or article on this topic that has educated and inspired you?
"To Keep and Bear Arms " by Garry Wills , New York Review of Books, September 21, 1995. If you want to understand the gun lobby's twisted justification for marketing guns to a populace already armed to the teeth, start here.
About the Editor: Jessica Mindich began the Caliber Collection in January 2012 as a collaboration with the Mayor of Newark, NJ, Cory Booker, as a way to turn illegal and unwanted guns from our cities' streets into jewelry. Their vision was to create a virtuous cycle by funding gun buyback and amnesty programs from the proceeds of the sales from the Caliber Collection. The jewelry is made with the serial numbers from illegal guns and the metal from shell casings. The Caliber Collection donates 20% of the net proceeds to fund voluntary gun buyback and amnesty programs in some of the toughest cities in America. To date, they have taken over 1,000 illegal guns off the streets and have raised approximately $100,000 for police departments in Newark, Hartford, the San Francisco Bay Area and Detroit from the sale of Caliber products to customers in over 85 countries.
From the success of the Caliber Collection, Jessica created The Caliber Foundation, which offers support to victims, families and communities who have been affected by illegal gun violence. The Caliber Foundation is the proud recipient of grants from MTV, Shepard Fairey/Obey Giant and The Serena Williams Foundation. Jessica is also the founder of the Raise The Caliber initiative, a National advocacy campaign to end illegal gun violence. Proceeds from partnerships under Raise The Caliber are donated to the Caliber Foundation.