Dems share personal gun violence horror stories to reflect anxiety in Black communities

“It is the single largest factor in death for young Black men and the second highest for Black women,” said U.S. Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev.

March For Our Lives protest,
Protesters participates in March For Our Lives II to protest against gun violence on June 11, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. Gun reform advocates in hundreds of communities across the U.S. took to the streets today in the wake of the shootings in Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo, New York. The March For Our Lives movement was spurred by the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in 2018. (Photo by Sarah Morris/Getty Images)

Gun violence is the leading cause of death for children in the United States and is particularly harming Black and brown communities. Democrats in Congress say they are working to combat that.

U.S. Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., told theGrio that gun violence is a “true epidemic” in the U.S. that “disproportionately impacts Black people.” He declared, “It is the single largest factor in death for young Black men and the second highest for Black women.”

The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) said that finding a solution to curbing gun violence should be taken seriously.

On Thursday, U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., held a gun prevention press conference with fellow House Democrats U.S. Reps. Maxwell Frost, D-Fla., Mike Thompson, D-Calif., and Horsford. Also in attendance were Gregory Jackson Jr., deputy director for the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention, members of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, and members of Brady: United Against Gun Violence.

During the conference, Rep. Kelly shared details about the newly-released “Kelly Report: A Vision for a Safer America,” which illustrates the social impact gun violence has on Americans, especially young children. The congresswoman found that children who witness gun violence often underperform in school and suffer from psychological issues that prevent their development.

The report also found communities that endure a high volume of gun violence experience trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), resulting in feeling hopeless, fear, numbness, and hypervigilance.

U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly (D-IL)
U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly (D-IL) listens during a news conference September 25, 2017 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Reps Lewis was joined by Demetrius Nash, who took a walk from Chicago to Washington, to discuss gun violence. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Congressman Frost, the youngest member of Congress, told theGrio that the “Kelly Report” is a useful tool “to show members of Congress how Black and brown people are disproportionately impacted by gun violence.”

The report also lays out solutions to prevent further “bloodshed” in the U.S. due to gun violence, which includes passing laws that enforce comprehensive background checks if someone wants to obtain a firearm license, safe storage legislation, stronger domestic violence statutes, and the creation of community violence prevention programs.

Kelly told reporters that she hopes this is the last report that she has to publish on gun violence and that House Republicans will join Democrats in passing comprehensive gun reform. She told reporters, “Americans shouldn’t have to live in constant fear.”

Horsford told reporters he became an advocate for gun reform legislation as a freshman attending the University of Nevada, Reno. A young Horsford encountered a “life-changing moment that helped him turn pain into ending senseless gun violence.”

“At 19, I got a call that my father was shot and killed on the way to the hospital,” said Horsford. “He was shot while working in a local convenience store a block away from where I was raised and the community that I now serve.”

U.S. Rep. Maxwell Frost,
U.S. Maxwell Frost (D-FL) participates in a meeting of the House Oversight and Reform Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on January 31, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

The CBC chairman told theGrio, “Every community deserves to be safe from gun violence in America.” He added, “We should approach gun violence with all of the solutions that are available to us” and “we should get Republicans in Congress to act.”

Frost, who has been an avid gun violence advocate, told reporters that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012 that killed 26 people, including students and staff, inspired him to get involved in politics at 15. At the time of the shooting, Frost was in a band. He and his bandmates saw the news of the deadly school shooting just before they were set to perform at a concert. 

“I played one of the worst shows of my life,” Frost told reporters about that night. “I kept looking over my shoulder at the exit sign with anxiety that someone would walk into that theatre and kill my friends, my family, and me.”

Frost added that it is the same anxiety he experienced that Black and brown people in communities across the nation face daily.

Rep. Steven Horsford,
Nevada Rep. Steven Horsford (above) confirmed with theGrio that he met with Republican Sen. Tim Scott on Monday to discuss police reform and plans to reach out to other Republican colleagues. (Photo: Rod Lamkey-Pool/Getty Images)

Congresswoman Kelly told theGrio that she invited Horsford and Frost to the press conference to share their personal stories about gun violence because “the public forgets that we’re human too.”

“We go through the same life experiences as everybody else,” said Kelly. “We hurt, we cry, and bad things happen to us … sometimes I think that gets lost.”

She said Americans must understand that lawmakers care about the same issues that they do. She explained, “They want background checks and gun safety, and so do we.”

Horsford told reporters that House Democrats “know the solutions; we just need Republicans in Congress to have the courage to bring up the bills that we’ve drafted.” Those bills, he said, have “overwhelming support from the people of America.”

“From all walks of life. From every political party,” he said. “Because gun violence doesn’t have a political party.”

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