My father was an amazing man. He was a poet, an activist and ultimately became a professor of black history. He taught us so many things, inspired my brothers and I, and made us laugh all the time. But, one of the things that wasn't that funny was when he would argue with my mother. Over the years, my brother Rev. Run and I, reminisce about one time when he was fighting with my mother and he said (I guess he was half-joking, but I am not sure) "If I had a gun, I would blow my motherf*ckin' brains out!" Thank God he didn't have access to a gun, because who knows what would have happened.
Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for one of the "good guys" who lost his life just a few months ago to the bullet of a gun. My longtime friend, Chris Lighty, in a moment of rage, shot himself in the head and died, leaving behind his beautiful children to grow up without their father. I just had spoken with him the night before and heard nothing in his voice that would indicate that he would take his own life just a few hours later. Another friend spoke to him just twenty minutes before his death and said he sounded good. If Chris didn't have access to that gun, we probably would not have lost one of the "good guys" to the bullet of a gun that early morning in the Bronx. Children would still have their father. And friends and family would not have been left without their loved one.
We have lost a lot of "good guys" to gun violence over the years. In fact, the majority of deaths by guns are suicides, almost 55 percent, all of whom are "good guys." Although most gun owners reportedly keep a firearm in their home for "protection" or "self defense," 83 percent of gun-related deaths in these homes are the result of a suicide, often by someone other than the gun owner. Over the past few decades, we've lost too many of the "good guys" to guns... the veterans, the police officers, the teachers, the pastors, the children...and so many more.
So, let us not believe that we can put out this blazing fire that is raging across our nation by adding more fire. That simply is not a solution to the violence, whether it be a suicide or a homicide. Let us not try to figure out who are "good guys" or who are the "bad guys," but rather focus on how we get guns out of the hands of anyone who might do harm. It is surely a complicated set of programs and laws we have to implement to protect the American people from each other or themselves, but I am confident that we are up to the task. When you feel the pain that remains in the hearts of those who have lost their brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, nieces, nephews, cousins, sons, daughters and lifetime friends to the tragic ending of a gunshot, your only choice is to turn your prayers into action.