This June, as cities such as New York commemorate Gun Violence Awareness Month (GVAM), it is the best time to reiterate something that we have said several times before: We urgently need to establish effective controls to prevent the death of more youths on our streets.
We wish to use this forum to salute efforts such as GVAM, which have led to a decline of 15% in deaths by firearms in New York, even as the nationwide rate has increased by 6%.
The combination of regulation — which has brought down the number of gun ownership at homes across the state — with several programs inaugurated throughout the country, including in Los Angeles — such as controlling gun sales and purchase between individuals — is part of a strategy which could work.
Within our communities, there is a ray of hope indicating that the power we have slowly gained in the ballot — which we insist must be consolidated as time goes by as we consistently exercise our right to vote — may be used to obtain the passing of federal laws that definitively govern the use and abuse of firearms.
A study by Pew Research Center found that 62% of all Hispanics favors regulating gun control, much higher than the national average of 45%. Also, the Violence Policy Center reported that only 11% of Latinos in the U.S. possess firearms, compared to 16% of African-Americans and 27% of whites.
Sadly, history has taught us that all this is much easier to promote than to enforce effectively. The powerful lobby of the National Rifle Association, the much-feared NRA, is only part of a problem that becomes more confounded during election year.
Although many admit that it is practically impossible to see Congress take action on such a controversial topic right now, it is clear that there is a chance to include it in the agenda of elected officials and, why not, also in the program discussions of both parties.
Only an effort made by the Latino community as a whole from a standpoint that surpasses partisan lines will influence legislators to grab the issue of gun control by the horns once and for all. We must not forget that 33,599 people died by firearms in the U.S. in 2014.
The victims and their relatives, who predominantly belong to minority and immigrant communities, and the nation as a whole, deserve it.