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That has been very heartbreaking because when people think of people who have been killed by guns, they don’t see the person. Most times, they view the people who get killed and the people who perpetrate as less than human or thugs, and that doesn’t have to be the case at all. And once you get to know these young people and see their struggles and what they’ve gone through, you kind of understand where they are. As a matter of fact, not only men — we had a young lady who was a part of the program, and she got shot about six or seven times.
There needs to be more resources poured back into the communities. When I was growing up, we had viable schools in the community, we had after-school programs. There were resources that allowed young people to do the things that young people do. And now, none of those things exist any longer. All of the programs that benefited kids in school — other than maybe basketball or football — are no longer there.
Shea Kuykendoll, Memphis
Kuykendoll is the mother of a 19-year-old daughter. She is a student advocate at the University of Memphis.
I was robbed at gunpoint on Christmas Eve. It happened so fast that you really don’t have time to process everything until after it’s over. And it’s like, you know, did that just happen?
I had always been pro-gun, pro-Second Amendment, and then after I was robbed, I was a little afraid of guns for a period of time. But I quickly got out of that. I’ve been going to the range, and I think Black people need to arm themselves. I’m going back to Black Panther days: We need to arm ourselves, we need to be able to protect ourselves.
Tennessee just passed a law that will not require you to have a permit anymore. Before, you had to take a class, take the test, apply for the permit, all of that. The governor’s argument was that this was prohibitive for people who maybe didn’t have the money to take the class, to apply for the permit and pay for the license.
I will be interested to see what happens when more Black people start purchasing guns now that this barrier is removed, what’s going to happen when more Black people start going in and purchasing firearms and there is no permit that’s required.
Lorrain Taylor, Centreville, Mississippi