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Gun violence is a pervasive issue affecting Americans all over. It’s rampant and increasingly indiscriminate as deadly violence occurs in nearly every neighborhood regardless of socio-economic status. In D.C., where areas east of the Anacostia River have, for years, notoriously topped the rank of the most violent sections of the city due to gun violence and other violent crimes, a new chapter is turning as residents in the more tony neighborhoods in upper Northwest are also seeing an uptick in gun-related violence. This week, a woman was reportedly injured from a gunshot wound she received while at McDonald’s off Wisconsin Avenue and Van Ness Street NW. 

When the target of the violence is a classroom full of children, a grocery store where the customers are elderly and Black, or a church filled with demonstrably loving and caring parishioners who offer to pray with the gunman before turning his weapon on them, it is no mistake that a cry for stricter gun laws has become a significant rallying call. Years after Ward 8 leaders described the violence in their neighborhoods as a “public health crisis,” community leaders across the country are now echoing the same refrain. 

Legislators in Congress continue to skirt the issue by invoking the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as the ultimate excuse for protecting the rights of gun owners. But this time, many Americans are not having it and their political persuasion has little or nothing to do with why they demand stricter gun laws. Nine House Judiciary Committee members passed a bill last week calling for more stringent gun laws following President Biden’s recommendation to ban the sale of high-capacity assault weapons or raise the legal age from 21 to purchase an assault weapon.

It is time to end the rhetoric and demonstrate that lives matter. Young leaders will march in D.C. this weekend with March for Our Lives, demanding their own set of gun restrictions. The Reverend William Barber is coming with the Poor People’s Campaign the following weekend, calling for a Moral Revival to address poverty that also contributes to the uptick in gun violence and mental illness.

Congressional leaders, especially Republicans, need to hear the cries of the people. They should be deafened by it and forced to act now. No more lives should be lost when taking bold legislative action can save them.  

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