Gun blasts, images of fear and death, and violence erupting in otherwise calm communities competes with the motivating image of the stars and stripes blowing in the wind surrounded by wide open skies. On any given day, an unexpected American will have their air tainted with the mixture of gunpowder and jacketed lead, causing blood to splatter from human bodies. And just as images of a burning flag feel uncomfortable and would prompt Americans to be filled with rage, current representations of America based on happenings in the nation should prompt equal offensiveness.
On November 13, 2015, many Americans showed their solidarity by changing their profile pictures on Facebook to the Paris flag in solidarity with Paris after the 130 people were killed during an attack in a Paris suburb. And in the same month, thousands had fallen victim to gun violence in America. Where was their support?
While showing solidarity is admirable, how can we prompt a more empathetic response to the growing numbers of Americans becoming victim to gun violence?
As of March 10, 2016, there have been over 9,000 gun violence victims, 546 alone in Chicago. And the conversation about gun violence is ongoing, but the conversations tend to be divided. Gun rights advocates make the conversation about a right to bear arms. Blame gets shifted to the ongoing problem of "black on black" crime in inner city communities. Focus is shifted to police brutality of black people, even though this is a separate issue. Discussion becomes circular. And all of the arguments have some validity to them, but when the conversation about 91 people in America being killed a day by gun violence is overshadowed by political stances, how will there ever be change?
I agree that guns alone do not cause bloodshed. I believe in responsible gun ownership, but when guns are as accessible as Swedish Fish and lollipops on inner city streets, and when movie theaters, elementary schools, high schools, university classrooms, and backyard barbecues become places on more than one occasion bombarded by gun violence, Americans need to embrace room for change.
Of course, it is possible to support multiple causes and feel empathy for other countries, but where is the empathy for children, mothers, fathers, grandmothers, and grandfather's lives being lost to gun violence in America?
While there is heavy saturation of gun violence and access to guns in inner city African-American communities, in a second, regardless of class, race, or gender, anyone can experience the flashing lights of a police car arriving to inform them of a family member who became one of the 91 gunshot victims that day. We all could find ourselves dodging the bullets fired from a smoking gun. And these scenarios happen all too often. Where is the collective American support, empathy, and outrage, when blood stains saturate our soil--our land?