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LOCAL COLUMNIST: Politicians fear the gun lobby

Willie Mae Samuel

Willie Mae Samuel, founder and director of the African American Connection for the Performing Arts in Rome

There is no fear in love: but perfect love casteth out fear; because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not perfect in love. 1 John 4:18


Those who have been involved in the civil rights movement and others who have faced fear for many years should share the many experiences with the young people who are embarking on the nonviolent protest attempting to change the thinking of people who have stood on the wrong side of the Second Amendment for too long. The writers of the Second Amendment probably never dreamed that we would have citizens turning on other sisters and brothers and gunning them down with AR 15s. The AR15 is for slaughter, not protection for an individual and his/her family. We seem to forget in this country that one individual’s rights end where the next person’s rights begin.

Young people are coming in with knowledge, action, solution, but someone needs to arm them with the history of the role of FEAR. We will not find a better group to inform them than the blacks and whites who fought to open the eyes of the people in our government to look beyond the skin color of the African-Americans and other people of color in this country. The black codes and the Jim Crow laws were real on the books of the most powerful government of the world.

The civil rights leaders faced a country deeply rooted in hate, angry policemen armed with .38s and .45s, vicious dogs, billy clubs, powerful water hoses with water strong enough to tear the bark off trees and put dents in cars. Many more young people must be willing to die in order to bring about changes to our gun problem in this country. Fear is real and is an emotion that will cause one to become immobile, stand and fight or take flight.

So many people have been critical of the policemen who arrived at the school and did not enter immediately. Many people across the country support the firing of them and are also calling for the firing of the police chief. Many are saying, “Well they were trained for that.” No, they were not trained for that! Question as many policemen as possible and ask them have they been trained to enter a shooting situation armed with a .38 or .45 caliber to take down an individual who is spraying the area with rounds coming from an AR15. Some of us have been looking at too many action movies and are forgetting that the main characters have people to play the stunt roles for them in these “Action Jackson” type movies. Who can say that the first shot would have taken the shooter down? Based on the latest research, the percentage of first shots miss the intended target over 80 percent of the time.

But one should also know that fear cannot compare to what those innocent children in Florida felt as the gunshots rang out, bullets flew through the halls of their school, and their teachers and classmates were gunned down.

That fear is nothing compared to what parents must have felt waiting in the parking lot of the high school, waiting for news about their children.

Our nation's schools should be the safest spaces in our communities. They should not be the place of horror. And while I wish that the scenes from two weeks ago were unthinkable or unimaginable, they are not. There were no stuntmen for those children.

We have seen them before, and we will see them again ... unless our elected leaders show the courage to act — the courage to finally take on the gun lobby. Which means voting in a way which may cause them to lose the position. Losing that position may reduce the ability to purchase items that they deem necessary for their lavish life style. Elected leaders also took oaths to be happy warriors and to serve with honor, decency and integrity. We must hold elected leaders accountable, just as we expect the policemen who make barely enough to make ends meet at home. Many of the policemen have to take on separate jobs to support their families.

The NEVER AGAIN MOVEMENT will have no effect if the elected officials continue to operate out of FEAR. Officials, can we hold you to the high standard of your office and request that you not let your fear keep you from taking on the gun lobby?

Willie Mae Samuel is the founder and director of the African American Connection for the Performing Arts in Rome.