Enough is enough. Every day, lives are claimed by gun violence and senseless murders. From cop killings to neighborhood crimes, Jacksonville is known for ushering young, black men into the grave before their time.
This is why City Council Candidate Kevin Monroe, hosted a live panel to discuss the effects on gun violence in the community. On Saturday, January 27, several influential leaders joined Monroe at Philippian Community Church. The panel included Channel 4’s Gil Smith, Pastor Virgil Jones, Jr., Pastor Nahshon Nicks, Dr. William Thomas and teacher Nicole Curry. With so many factors revolving around gun violence, the issues boiled down to one factor—communication. The entire panel agreed that parents need to communicate with their children, especially males, about the importance of guns and gun safety.
Smith urged the community to educate their children on gun laws. “In Florida, guns do not need to be registered, but you must have a license,” he says. Gun owners are also required to keep guns in a safe place--completely away from children.
Safety always comes first, but there are many Children who may never hear this advice from a parent, especially a paternal figure. Dr. Thomas, a Chaplain for inmates, says that 90% inmates grew up without a father. He suggested to change the dynamic of the family structure. To do that, he encouraged parents to work through conflict together to ensure a safe environment for children.
“You need a male structure in the house in order to raise your children. Without that, that child is fair game. He’s fair game to the gangs. Fair game to the streets. Much like low-hanging fruit, he’s easy –picking,” says Thomas.
Smith also suggested that we cannot continue to excuse fatherlessness. “Male figures may not be there now. They may never be there. Then do what is necessary to prepare your child(ren),” Smith says.
Several locals in the audience had questions and concerns, but one local had a devastating testimony. Earline Nixon, a regular churchgoer, recalled the loss of her 19-year-old nephew to gun violence on New Year’s Eve.
“He just wanted to feel like he belonged. Some of the people in the streets are probably who killed him. When you leave here, you’re not coming back. My nephew probably thought, ‘I ain’t gone get killed’. But guess what? He was in his car at a stop sign and he was shot in his head," Nixon says.
Much like Nixon, many grandmothers, neighbors, mothers, have lost sons and daughters to gun violence. So, what can be done to decrease the gun violence? How can parents communicate with their children more? The panel and audience agreed on multiple solutions.
Smith advised to try speaking with your children at night before they go to bed.
“There’s something about the darkness that opens up communication,” he says. He finds it easier to communicate with his daughter in this way.
Pastor Nicks encouraged the community to ban together. He pointed out that the most valuable resource in the black community is depending on each other. Communities cannot depend on law enforcement systems to restore Black communities.
“We don’t need better response times. We need police officers via residents, via citizens, interacting with the community on a regular basis. Give them incentives to stay with the people they’re supposed to serve,” says Nicks.
The issue of gun violence will never get resolved in one conversation. But you'll never know how one conversation can save your children's lives.
"It’s not up to the media to teach our children how to communicate. Talk to your kids," says Monroe. Monroe plans to have more live panels to discuss gun violence in the near future.
For more information about gun laws and safety, click on the link below.
If you've missed the live panel, below are a few photos from the event.