Detroit Is In A State Of Shock

Detroit is in a state of shock as we deal with the latest barrage of gun violence plaguing our city. There is no doubt that we have a problem that has eaten away at the very fabric of this city for the better part of my teenage and adult life.

Twenty five years ago, after a very good friend was murdered at my high school, it really started to hit me, the hideous wickedness that gun violence brings to families and neighborhoods. His family, my high school, Murray Wright, and the neighborhood in which I grew up in, Research Park, never quite recovered.

The enrollment at Murray dropped precipitously and eventually closed. And the guys from the neighborhood, who were there that dreadful day, talk about it as if it were yesterday. And Research? Let’s just say it does not resemble anything close to where I grew up. They have even changed the name.

How often have I asked myself, who are the people who bring guns into our neighborhoods? Who are these gun dealers? I can’t help but think about the many people who are dead, imprisoned, or in wheelchairs.

We have to do more. What that is…is the million dollar question. No one person, or legislature, or organization can solve this problem. An entire community must work together to take control of gun control.

It’s ridiculous that our great city is known more for bloodshed than for its history and culture, its renowned universities and world-class institutions.

Furthermore, I believe that the state and city legislature is misguided. We are not going to arrest ourselves out of this situation. Everyone is misguided when it comes to guns in this country.

The Reverend Jesse Jackson in an email to the Chronicle gave some insight into what President Barack Obama’s broad agenda on gun control might be:

“The reforms under consideration include the basic: reinstating the ban on the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. They include good governance: bolstering state reporting on felons, drug abuses, the mentally ill for the FBI database, strengthening mental health screening. They include what many of us would consider common sense: higher penalties for carrying a gun near our schools. And they include applying regulations already in place universally: requiring a background on every gun sale to check to screen out felons, the mentally unstable and terrorists.

In… most urban areas, this is a question of national security and basic public safety. Assault weapons outgun our police. Handguns shoot up innocent victims in drug wars. Terrorists and the drug cartels too easily find access to guns. And those who have a gun in the house for protection are more likely to shoot a relative than a robber.”
So sad. But so true.

I’m calling on the Department of Human Services, Family Court, the Detroit School District, and various community leaders to address youth gun violence. You notice I didn’t say the mayor’s office, city council or the police department. I think they are doing all that they can, given the circumstances.

This epidemic speaks to more than just our city, but to a lost generation. How can children be our future, if they can’t live to see it?

We could go with more legislation and restrictions. That approach would be politically convenient and psychologically satisfying – especially after the violent year we just had. But is that really the answer?

I don’t think so. And neither should you.

Zack Burgess is the Senior Writer for the Chronicle. He can be contacted at and followed on Twitter @zackburgess1.


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