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Gun reform could protect black lives

Anna Beth Peters, Staff columnist

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America has a gun problem. According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been over 52,000 gun-related incidents in the country in 2018. Three hundred twenty-four of these occurrences have been mass shootings. This country has the highest gun violence rates in the world.

On Thanksgiving, gun-related violence struck once again. Shots were fired amidst the chaos at the Riverchase Galleria shopping mall in Hoover, Alabama. Two teenagers were hit with bullets, and the suspect was shot immediately.

However, the suspect was not the shooter, and the police department killed an innocent man. Emantic Bradford Jr., a 21-year old black man, was the victim of this terrible tragedy. The department has issued their deepest sympathies for the victim’s family, but also insinuated that he could have aided in the crime. The actual suspect from the shooting has now been arrested.

Many people aren’t in favor of gun control because they believe guns are used for self-protection. Bradford was exercising his Second Amendment rights when he was holding a licensed gun for protection against the mall shooter. This prompted police to think of him as the suspect, and he was shot and killed. It seems as though gun protection can only go so far when left at the hands of law officials.

Some of Birmingham’s inhabitants recently participated in a peaceful protest against Bradford’s killing. Around 80 people marched through the Galleria, chanting phrases like, “no justice, no peace.” They also staged a “die-in,” where participants laid on the ground in remembrance of Bradford. The protesters believe Bradford’s death was baseless and called for the body camera footage of the shooting to be released. Protesters also conveyed that this shooting was yet another example of police brutality against the black community.

Law officials seem more threatened by an armed or unarmed black man than a white man who has committed a mass murder. White mass murderers like Dylann Roof, who opened fire in a Charleston church in 2015, and the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter have been quietly arrested without being harmed by police officials. In contrast, innocent black men like Bradford are often killed on sight with no real proof or evidence. Was Bradford’s only crime being a black man in possession of a weapon?

It makes logical sense to call this shooting an act of police brutality. Officers are supposed to protect and guard citizens, not hurt and kill those who have done nothing wrong. It’s understood that it’s difficult to decide when to open fire during high-stress situations, but police officers should be trained well enough to know how to use discretion. People’s lives are not something to take lightly, but it seems like we see innocent victims of police brutality and gun violence all too frequently.

Police officers should not be allowed to open fire on a black man carrying a gun when they quietly arrest those who have orchestrated mass killings. We cannot sit quietly and allow the murder of innocent lives, while the police officials who participate in this violence are put on paid leave. America needs gun control, and it needs more training for policemen. Something has to change, and it starts with gun reform.

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Gun reform could protect black lives