by Cierra Duncan
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee asked Houstonians to unite to help prevent the gun violence taking a toll on area young people.
“It is time that law enforcement and the community take immediate action to stop these senseless crimes on our youth with these guns,” she said during a press conference held in Third Ward.
Jackson Lee encouraged the community to come together in support of a strategy that addresses the causes and effects of youth violence. “We must begin discussing common-sense steps we can take right now to combat gun violence,” she said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, an average of 13 young people between the ages of 10 and 24 are victims of homicide every day. Jackson Lee said such statistics are “shocking” and “unacceptable.”
“What is further disturbing is the fact that homicide is the leading cause of death for African-Americans between ages 10 and 24, and the second leading cause of death for Hispanic-Americans,” she said.
Jackson Lee recently introduced HR 65, the Child Gun Safety and Gun Access Prevention Act, and has co-sponsored other gun safety legislation while in Congress.
If passed, HR 65 will prevent children’s access to firearms. It will also do the following:
• Increase youth gun safety by raising the age of handgun eligibility to 21 and prohibit youth from processing semiautomatic assault weapons.
• Increase punishment for youth possession of handguns and semiautomatic assault weapons and for the transfer of such weapons to youth.
• Require gun storage and safety devices for all firearms.
• Make adults responsible for death and injury caused by child access to firearms.
• Require that a child be accompanied by an adult during a gun show.
• Authorize the attorney general to provide grants that enable law enforcement agencies to develop and sponsor gun safety classes for parents and children.
• Allow each school district to provide or participate in student firearms safety.
Jackson Lee said communities must take on the challenge of changing the violent culture among young people, a task that won’t happen overnight.
“We collectively fail our children when we fail to teach them to resolve their problems in a nonviolent manner,” she said. “While we can act now and pass legislation to ameliorate some causes of the youth violence epidemic, this problem is larger than our laws. We must work tirelessly to create an environment in this country that lifts the psychological burden of violence off the shoulders of our kids.”
The above article was published in Volume 83, Number 4 (November 21, 2013) of the Defender newspaper in Houston, TX.
The online version is available at http://issuu.com/defendermediagroup/docs/11.21.2013_e-full.