As Americans, we are all touched by violence in some way, large or small.
These are some of our personal experiences.
Granville, age 14
On the morning of October 3 while I was studying for a Geography test, I got the news. My dad been shot outside our house and was in critical condition. I couldn’t believe it. My dad, who believed in rebuilding New Orleans after Katrina… my dad, who is the nicest guy I have ever met….my dad, who played with me in a tennis tournament with just two weeks ago… had been shot?
As I went to the hospital, I felt so many emotions. I felt comforted by the fact that my family and friends were there to support me. At the same time I was scared – scared to lose my dad. I was also angry- angry at the injustice. The injustice of what was happening to me, happening to my city, and to teens and people everywhere. Why should anyone be afraid to go out to their driveway to get something out of their car? It’s insane.
My dad’s goal is to RENEW NEW ORLEANS. Why him?
Now my goal is to make this city – and every city in the nation – safe for everyone. That’s why we’re organizing this movement for teens across America.
Fleming, age 15
Growing up in New Orleans, I am no stranger to violence. Every night when I try to fall asleep, I hear police and ambulance sirens and often hear gunshots being fired. Usually the violence takes place at night, but not always. A few years ago on Mardi Gras Day, there was an incident at the parades that forever changed my life. My friends and I were walking back from the parades when all of a sudden, and out of nowhere, we heard shots being fired. People began screaming and diving onto the ground. We ran as fast as we could, trying to find our parents in the crowd. We later learned that two teenagers were arrested for shooting seven people. Three of the victims were teenagers and one was a baby! This day was very memorable because that was probably the closest I’ve ever been to a shooting. I often think about what would have happened if I or one of my friends had been shot and how it would have changed my life.
The shootings unfortunately continue on nearly a daily basis in New Orleans, many by teenagers against teenagers. Families’ lives are ruined. After all of the other incidents happened around our country, I knew that I wanted to be a part of letting people know how bad this is and that it needs to stop.
Lizzie, age 17
Having grown up in an urban area, I have unfortunately been exposed to gun violence much of my life. Nearly every morning I would awake to news stories of shootings during the nighttime hours. However, I was never particularly worried about my own safety. I was taught that if I avoided dangerous areas, and if I stayed out of trouble, that I would be safe. Recent events around my city and around the nation have shown me otherwise. I have witnessed friends and families suffer from gruesome incidents in or near their homes, all involving shootings, while also watching on television the massacres in Aurora, Columbine, and Newtown. Who would have thought that kids would be unsafe going to the movies, or to a mall, or most importantly, attending school? These are all things that teenagers do on a regular basis. This does not make any sense and I decided that I wanted to do something about it.
While many teens still do not have the right to vote, by 2016 most of us will be registered and our vote will count. We are the future of America, and we will make up an important voting bloc, so we ask that Congress listen to us.
Talley, age 15
Like a certain part of the teen population, gun violence has not directly affected me; however, the events occurring all over America today are something I have come to witness. This growing problem affects people in our community in ways unimaginable to me. I was raised in New Orleans, where gun violence on the streets is common and did not strike me as alarming until a family friend’s father was recently shot. The distress his family is in is terribly upsetting–this is something families across America should not have to deal with. I currently attend boarding school in Connecticut that is 20 minutes away from where the tragic Newtown shooting occurred. One of my friends from school’s sister goes to that school and thankfully she was not harmed in the shooting. However, school is a place that should be a safe haven, not a place where children should live in fear of the unknown. Teenagers are the future of this country and we need to stand up with a voice to put an end to gun violence that occurs directly and indirectly to us. Some kids are like me, who have not come into contact firsthand with this violence, but have concern that the values of our society are in jeopardy.
*We all believe in the right of sportsmen, hunters and law-abiding citizens to own firearms. We just want our legislators to pass legislation that will help eradicate gun violence by those who do not respect our laws.