Monthly Archives: September 2016

Black Lives Matter

The Chester County Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence decries all forms of unnecessary gun violence incidents. Though the vast majority of police do a difficult job with integrity and respect, there are too many tragedies that involve the shooting of unarmed black men by the police. This has inspired the Black Lives Matter movement, and we had a prominent member of our West Chester community speak to this issue during the Sept. 25 Concert Across America to End Gun Violence.

Black Lives Matter

by Cassandra Jones: remarks at the Concert Across America to end Violence, West Chester concert, 9/25/16

So I could give you a bunch of statistics (such as 509 people shot so far this year by police) and point fingers in certain directions but I really want to talk about this from a different perspective.

Black Lives Matter: That’s hard to hear isn’t it? …It’s even harder to say because I agree that ALL lives matter Right? Do you believe that? Ok, if you believe that then it should be easy for you to accept the fact that Black lives are a part of the equation of ALL!

There has been no video footage released of any white, Hispanic, Asian or any other race but black that shows unarmed people being blatantly shot down. The visual images themselves are enough to cause nightmares for children and adults.

I have been a victim or survivor of gun violence myself. My mother was shot when I was just 6 years old. The impact left me in a state of paralysis. I do not remember anything that happened from the time my mother was taken away in the ambulance until the time she returned from the hospital. I lost my memory for that period of time! This is the effect of senseless gun violence.

We see ourselves as leaders of the free world and the most civilized country. We must stand up and fight for sensible gun laws in America.

The streets of America have become outlined with the blood of innocent people. In particular black men, but in one heartbreaking case an 8 year-old girl was killed while sleeping on her grandmother’s’ couch because she jumped when a police officer burst into the house with tear gas and couldn’t identify her!

I am outraged but more importantly hurt in ways that are almost irreparable! BUT, because I know and love good and decent police officers (including the great members of the WCPD) and good and decent people of other races, I STILL HAVE HOPE!

My hope is that the good people who really wish to change things in America are still willing to stand side by side with those who have been assaulted by the inexcusable and unnecessary killings that we have witnessed over and over and over again for the past 3 years.

History shows that nothing changes in America until black & white people—and all people—stand together to make things right! The moral compass of America has always been challenged by protest but the needle doesn’t move until we find common ground to stand on. That’s what pushes the needle toward justice! That’s why people today can stand and declare that “We are better/stronger together.” It’s because we’ve seen that model work for us. Like “Yes we can” or “Change has come to America”!

These are color-neutral mantras that have galvanized us because they foster that one human trait that I spoke of earlier… HOPE! Hope in each other: that’s what we are banking on! The hope I have in you, the hope that I hope you have in me. Hope that you will truly believe that ALL lives matter and Black Lives Matter because of that! Not more than that, but because of that!

I believe the founders of BLM were sending out an SOS request to draft people who believe in life, to help us black people say to everyone—in spite of systematic racism, marginalization, criminalization, chattel slavery, prison slavery, abject poverty and the attempted assassination of the human spirit— that we still want to live!

Side by side with you, my brothers and sisters, neighbors and coworkers. WE WANT TO LIVE!

Some people choose to ignore the current circumstances and hide behind All Lives Matter because they refuse to acknowledge that black people are being killed in our communities DAILY without consequence. Whether it’s by police or others, because there is no consequence, it appears that it doesn’t matter. We are just trying to get you to see that it really does matter.

We need you to help us, to help us prove that ALL lives do matter and Black lives are a part of the equation of ALL.

At night I have nightmares about my dark-skinned grandson being killed for the color of his skin and my daughters being harmed. Like most parents, I have brought them up to be good citizens and educated people. Now I need to feel that they are safe and not threatened by the nightmare of gunfire.

Fear vs. Hope: What Kind of a Country Do We Choose?

by Tom Buglio: remarks at International Day of Peace observation, West Chester 9/21/16

buglioThank you for inviting me to speak here today. I am the director of the Chester County Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, and I have chosen the theme of my talk to be “Hope vs. Fear: what kind of a world do we want for our children and families?”

We are truly blessed to live here in beautiful Chester County. These rolling hills are such a wonderful place to be, with good schools, lots of open space for biking, hiking, and walks in the woods. And we can experience the wonder of the 4 seasons, with Autumn being my favorite time, with the crisper air, changing colors of the leaves, and fall festivals galore. We all strive for a home where our children thrive, and enjoy everything life has to offer,… where we can live in a truly peaceful world.

However, this peace can be shattered by someone who should not be permitted to use a gun, somehow getting a hold of one and using it badly with tragic results. There are stories in the news of this happening around the country every day. Although it does not happen often here in Chester County, we are not immune from the tragedy of gun violence.

So I ask again, what kind of a world do we wish to live in?

Let me paint a picture of two different visions of our world. The world of Fear is populated by an armed society, with every able-bodied person owning and carrying a gun for self-protection, where all feel it is their personal responsibility to protect themselves and their loved ones from the bad people in the world.

The world of Fear has a vision of the “good guy with a gun” being a hero if anything goes wrong. The world of Fear believes that you can’t wait for the police to help you, you have to take the law and justice into your own hands, and that this is the best way to keep yourself safe.

The world of Fear is populated by the fear of the OTHER — those who don’t look like you, speak like you or have the same religion as you. The world of Fear does not trust immigrants, or people of different races or nationalities. The world of Fear does not trust our government or our police. The world of Fear is the world that is fostered by the NRA and other gun rights organizations, which paint a dystopian view of society, with not just the freedom to buy as many guns as you want, but the absolute need to do so. Continue reading

Making a Killing: The business and politics of selling guns

by Evan Osnos, The New Yorker, 6/27/16

Bars in the Old City neighborhood of Philadelphia let out at 2 A.M. On the morning of January 17, 2010, two groups emerged, looking for taxis. At the corner of Market and Third Street, they started yelling at each other. On one side was Edward DiDonato, who had recently begun work at an insurance company, having graduated from Villanova University, where he was a captain of the lacrosse team. On the other was Gerald Ung, a third-year law student at Temple, who wrote poetry in his spare time and had worked as a technology consultant for Freddie Mac. Both men had grown up in prosperous suburbs: DiDonato in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, outside Philadelphia; Ung in Reston, Virginia, near Washington, D.C.

Everyone had been drinking, and neither side could subsequently remember how the disagreement started; one of DiDonato’s friends may have kicked in the direction of one of Ung’s friends, and Ung may have mocked someone’s hair. “To this day, I have no idea why this happened,” Joy Keh, a photographer who was one of Ung’s friends at the scene, said later.

The argument moved down the block, and one of DiDonato’s friends, a bartender named Thomas V. Kelly IV, lunged at the other group. He was pushed away before he could throw a punch. He rushed at the group again; this time, Ung pulled from his pocket a .380-calibre semiautomatic pistol, the Kel-Tec P-3AT. Only five inches long and weighing barely half a pound, it was a “carry gun,” a small, lethal pistol designed for “concealed carry,” the growing practice of toting a hidden gun in daily life. Two decades ago, leaving the house with a concealed weapon was strictly controlled or illegal in twenty-two states, and fewer than five million Americans had a permit to do so. Since then, it has become legal in every state, and the number of concealed-carry permit holders has climbed to an estimated 12.8 million….

read more at The New Yorker

Oppose HB 2258 and SB 1330!

Please call or email your state representative and senator today and tell him or her to vote NO on HB 2258 or SB 1330, both giving the NRA and other gun organizations an artificial standing to sue cities and towns without needing to show damages. Please write; playing defense is no fun, but important!

From CeaseFirePA:

The gun lobby and their friends in Harrisburg seem to be in a timewarp. Just like two years ago, they are trying to ram through the special standing bill during the short time between summer recess and the elections. As you remember, this is the bill that allows the NRA and other groups to sue our cities for trying to make their communities safer.

And we know from experience what this means. It’s not hypothetical. Last time when this bill passed, the NRA and several extremist gun groups sued Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Lancaster and Lower Merion Township. These time-consuming and expensive lawsuits could bankrupt your city.

The Supreme Court struck this law down in June because of how it was enacted in 2014, so the gun lobby is trying again. They know they can’t just stick it onto another bill like they did last time, so they’re trying right away to pass it on its own.

Please tell your legislator you’ve had enough and to vote No on HB 2258.

Download the texts of both bills here (just enter HB 2258 or SB 1330 into the Legislation Quick Search box).

Keep guns out of hands of dangerous people

Daily Local News, 9/8/16

To the Editor:

I read with interest your Tuesday, Sept. 6th article about the depressing ‘New Normal’ where public buildings, local governments, schools and just about any place where a large number of people can work or gather have to deal with the reality that some unhinged person with a gun can show up anywhere and start firing away.

After the Sandy Hook shooting, there is a serious effort being done to make our public spaces safer.

Your article wrote extensively about the millions of dollars that are being spent on safety measures, such as bullet proof glass, active shooter drills, updated alarm systems, buzzing people in, and even high tech drivers license readers in an attempt to thwart the chances of the unthinkable… a mass shooting here in Chester County. This new reality is really depressing.

I refuse to accept the fact that we have to live in a world where we will have to spend millions of dollars upgrading our public buildings because there are so many unfit people in our country with easy access to guns. I also refuse the image of the NRA and gun rights advocates that the only solution is to arm every American to ‘protect’ ourselves and loved ones in a dystopian view of gun shoot outs with citizens protecting their loved ones by blazing away at the ‘bad guy with a gun.’

The best solution is not to deal with the aftermath of dangerous people having guns, it is to do everything to prevent that person from getting the guns to begin with! That is why gun violence prevention groups talk prevention at the most basic level:

*Universal Background checks for all gun sales-public and private

*Strengthened Background checks- loss of gun rights for all domestic abusers, and anyone with a mental illness

*Cracking Down on Gun Trafficking and Gun Fencing with effective measures such as lost and Stolen reporting and one gun per month

The states that have measures like these in place have half the gun deaths of other states. Take for example, New Jersey, which has strong gun laws to prevent the unfit from getting a gun. NJ gun deaths per 100,000 is 2.8 Contrast that with PA gun deaths per 100,000 is 11.2. The National average of gun deaths per 100,000 is 10. Compare with Canada- 2.3 and Great Britain- less than 1 gun death per 100,000, and you can see that the best safety measure is not bullet proof glass, or active shooter drills. It is doing everything you can to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.

Tom Buglio
Chester County Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence

Suicide – the under reported Gun Violence Problem

Learn the facts:

Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among teens and young adults and the 10th leading cause of death among all Americans.
On average, 4 teenagers and 118 total Americans complete suicide every day.
90% people who survive a suicide attempt do not go on to die by suicide.
Many suicide attempts occur with little planning during a short-term crisis.
50% of suicide deaths in the United States are by firearm.
Access to firearms is a risk factor for suicide.
Firearms used in youth suicide usually belong to a parent.
Reducing access to lethal means, like firearms, saves lives.
Save lives.

A gun in the home is 22x more likely to be used in a suicide, homicide, or unintentional shooting than for self defense. If there is a gun in your home:

1) Keep it unloaded and locked up or with a trigger lock. Store the bullets in a different place that is also locked.

2) Do not let children and teens have a key to the places where guns and bullets are stored.

3) If a household member becomes depressed or has severe mood swings, store the gun outside the home for the time being while you seek help!

4) Make certain to share this information with your neighbors, family, and friends. We need to all work together to protect our children!

5) States where there are more guns have a higher rate of suicide. Be sure to work with your state legislators to strengthen gun safety legislation!