It's extremely hard to be a parent in today's America, but it is even harder to be a kid now. Many of them live in a constant state of fear, as just going to and from school or the park is like walking through a minefield and battlefield that rival any in Afghanistan. It has become obvious to many that our nation's streets have become synonymous with the 21st century's version of 'The Killing Fields'. Our children also know that as much as we parents do our ultimate best to try, we can never fully protect our kids when they step outside our doors. In many of Americas cities and towns, gangbangers rule, and many of our teens are pressured and coerced to join them. Like a frog boiled slowly, the road to where we are as a violent society did not happen overnight, but over a period of time. Gangs have always been with us since the Pug-uglies of the 19th century. Violence exploded during Prohibition in the "Capone" 1920's, but the ones killed were mostly organized crime's gangsters and bootleggers. Once in a while innocents were caught in the crossfire, but these incidents were usually rare. Today, it is the norm.
So what's the difference between last century and now? Obviously the ready availability of cheap, high powered handguns. Like cheap drugs, guns have flooded and saturated our inner-cities and have been causing deadly havoc ever since. In September last year, The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence came out with a special report entitled: Missing Guns: Lost and Dangerous. Here is a portion of the report:
"Every day over the last two and a half years, an average of at least 18 firearms left licensed gun manufacturers’ plants nationwide without a record of sale, according to a Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence analysis of data released in August 2011 by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. From 2009 to the middle of 2011, at least 16,485 firearms left gun manufacturer’s inventory without a record of being legally sold.1 The 16,485 “missing” guns are likely a vast undercount of the total number of guns that disappeared from gun manufacturers in the last two and a half years. This report follows a January 2011 Brady Center report, “Missing Guns,” that found that the nation’s gun dealers also “lost” more than 62,000 firearms since 2008.2 The missing guns are noted at ATF compliance inspections of gun manufacturers. Nationwide there are 4,487 licensed gun manufacturers,3 but due to funding restrictions, ATF conducts compliance inspections each year at only about one-fifth of the nation’s licensed gun dealers and manufacturers.4 Firearms that disappear from gun manufacturers’ plants without records of sale are frequently trafficked by gun traffickers and prized by criminals. Guns taken from gun manufacturing plants may also be removed before they have been stamped with serial numbers, making them virtually untraceable."
As parents, we are fighting a daunting, uphill battle due to so many obstacles that are hindering the keeping of illegal guns out of the hands of those who are criminally irresponsible.
In 1994, I wrote and self-published 'The City Game', my first short story that highlighted the then-growing menace of youth gun violence. The story was about a high school basketball star, Sam Johnson, who is on his way to professional basketball stardom when he is cut down when coming to the aid of his best friend. Almost immediately, the story was hailed by students, parents and teachers as a seminal breakthrough in the battle against violence. Schools and libraries picked up the book and it was spotlighted in newspapers and magazines.
After I wrote and published my second and more detailed story on this subject, 'Street Angel', 'The City Game' sort of went on the back-burner and got lost in the hoopla and success of 'Street Angel'. But to me, 'The City Game' is my favorite of all the pieces I have written and needs to come back to the forefront as the inspirational cautionary tale that it is.
To this end, I am re-publishing it as an e-book this year and will spearhead a movement to turn the story into a media event: specifically a play and eventually a film--even if I have to finance and produce them myself.
This is my resolved resolution for 2012.