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Catherine Okafor Headshot

The Rise of Gun Violence in America

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"Chicago authorities say seven people were killed and six wounded in gun violence in one day." That was the first sentence of The Huffington Post article that I just read about recent gun violence occurring in Chicago.

Let's think about that again, seven people killed and six wounded in just one day. Thirteen people were victims of gun violence in one day. It's hard to continue to read the article with the depressing numbers of people either getting seriously hurt or killed due to careless gun violence.

As I read further into the article it states that Chicago's homicide count eclipsed 500 for the first time last year. It added that the city's homicide rate was almost double in the early 1990s, averaging around 900.

Each year I lose count of the number of people killed in America due to gun violence.

Sometimes I don't care to watch the news because I'm tired of hearing about the violence that is occurring in the world we live in.

Growing up I would feel a small sense of safety coming from a small town in North Carolina where crime wasn't a major risk factor. However, each summer I would travel back to my birthplace, Atlanta and Washington D.C., to visit family and I would have to be very careful. Why? Because the crime rates were starting to rise day by day. There were well-known areas of the city that I dared not to cross due to the amounts of people getting killed from gun violence.

It has been about five years since I lost my little cousin to gun violence in Richmond. The summer of 2008 was the last time that I saw and talked with him. I never knew that moment was going to be the last time that we would share laughs and recount some of our fondest childhood memories.

What's more daunting is, he was a child at the time of his death. He was only 11-years-old. He had his life ahead of him and all of that was washed away due to someone shooting him to his death. So many questions are still unanswered.

It hasn't been until recently that the media and caring citizens have spoken about gun violence in America. The main reason for this has been because the rising numbers of groups of people having their lives taken away due to gun violence.

Most of those crimes have been murder-suicide and massacres. From the Aurora movie theatre shooting to the most recent shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conneticut, both occurred in 2012.

However, I want to pose the question, why now? Why now is the gun violence issue becoming better known? Where were the media and caring citizens when my young cousin was killed? Where were the media when millions of people have lost their lives to gun violence decades ago?

Gun violence has always been an issue but why has it taken so long for people to want to take action now?

I commend the Obama administration for taking the proper steps to address the issue and I hope they continue to do so. However, I hope they continue to push the issue and come up with a solution to it.