Breaking the Silence on Gun Violence

UA Walks Out


By Julian Curet, News Contributor

Within the borders of our country, there exists a silence as deafening as the hail of bullets raining down on our citizens. That silence is as strong as the walls of our governing institutions. It extends as far as the power of privilege extends through time and space. The silence exists to drown out shouts and cries for hope and change.

Underneath the din of nationalist discourse, which is the foundation of this silence, the agents of fear and money operate as bulwarks against any threat to the Second Amendment of our country’s Constitution. The silence can only be broken by eliminating misguided fear. The silence can only be shattered by removing the influence of money.

However, the intention here is not to subvert the Second Amendment or to even discuss its relevance as it pertains to our contemporary landscape. Yet, the suffocating vise grip that holds the issue of gun violence hostage must be loosened before any reasonable conversation can begin and any reasonable change can be brought to fruition.

The oppressive rhetoric of fear that has captured the nation’s zeitgeist shares a timeline with the country from birth. It began with calls for people to arm themselves against a tyrannical government, a noble cause for its time. Since then, citizens have taken up arms against any perceived threat to our individual sovereignty in fear of losing that privilege.

The target of this fear has been painted on the faces of African slaves, Native Americans, immigrants, suspected Japanese-American conspirators, supposed communist traitors, Latinos, the LGBTQ+ community, and peaceful protesters. This implicit bias has also been facilitated by the threat of the ever-present, unknown, masked or hooded intruder. In more recent times the list has grown to include the terrorist threat.

But, the everyday citizen is not the only one prone to this fear. It exists within the ranks of law enforcement as part of the many cases where unarmed African-Americans are gunned down by police officers. Internationally, the government has acted overseas in the name of protecting democracy while garnering support built by stirring up fear of more or less the same aforementioned parties.

Domestically, fear breathes life into the gun culture of the nation. That culture is capitalized on by the government and gun manufacturers in so many forms that it is often difficult to untangle the relationships. Hence why, any discussion on the matter becomes ensnared by fear, money, and regulation and it becomes difficult to find a balance between protecting the seemingly inalienable right to “keep and bear arms” and protecting human lives.

The issue of gun violence has come to the forefront of national debate once again. In the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shootings in Parkland, Florida on Feb. 14, students all over the country have risen up in protest against the National Rifle Association, legislators, and current gun laws.

Violence in schools is nothing new; many inner-city school districts are familiar with the problem. However, incidents on the magnitude of Columbine, Sandy Hook, Parkland and others carry different social implications. And, the phenomena of mass shootings is not isolated to schools. The silence has persisted through events like the shooting in Las Vegas where 58 people were killed and Pulse nightclub in Florida where 49 people were killed.

Each and every time a tragedy involving a private citizen, a gun, and multiple deaths occurs the silence grows stronger and the machine continues to lumber on without a hitch. Now, there seems to be a tipping point on the horizon where the silence will no longer be tolerated. The unprecedented efforts of high school students to break the silence holds a promise for forward movement on the topic. This recent movement has sparked the formation of a few national school walkouts, including one on the campus of The University of Akron.

UA senior, Megan Delong is organizing a walkout on campus to coincide with the national walkout sponsored by The Women’s March Network on March 14. The event begins in front of Bierce Library at 10 a.m. and will end at 10:17 a.m. Each minute represents one of the 17 victims of the Parkland school shooting. Delong hopes to have a few speakers scheduled during the walkout to speak briefly on the issue of gun violence to the gathered students. Students are called to converge and show support for victims of gun violence and protest against the silence that paves the road for its perpetuation.

Often, the space in front of Bierce Library has been the staging area for hateful voices from groups spewing thoughts that only serve to further marginalize select students on campus. It is time that space is used for positive action. The University of Akron represents a nexus of students, parents, institutionally marginalized people, and other citizens that are concerned about gun violence making it the perfect place to show solidarity against the silence.

Also on March 14, UA will be hosting a town hall discussion on the same issue from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m in Olin Hall. The Akron Beacon Journal reported that several guests including local teachers, UA professor of school counseling, Delia Owens, and others will be speaking at the event which is sponsored by the LeBron James Family Foundation College of Education.

For more information about the planned UA walkout email [email protected]. Delong is also looking for volunteers to help coordinate and spread the word about the walkout on March 14.