When President Barack Obama wept openly during a speech Tuesday as he remembered the 20 innocent children and six adults who were victims of the Sandy Hook shootings, I felt his pain — and the need to do something about gun violence.
I wrote recently about doing random acts of kindness in this new year. It seems, however, random acts of violence seems to already be the norm. I thought about the recent shooting of the young father in Opa-locka. His relatives said his 3-year-old daughter was his pride and joy. Now, that child will grow up without the love of her father.
I thought about the 7-year-old boy shot while playing in the supposed safety of his living room. Who can know what that child would have grown up to become?
I thought about teens at Northwestern High School in Liberty City who have died at the hands of a seemingly unknown gunmen. And about drive-by shootings in South Dade.
It’s enough to “blow” my mind, so to speak, when I think about all the gun violence in recent years in our community. It’s scary, all right. We talk about it with our neighbors and we wonder out loud, “What can we do? Doesn’t anybody care?”
Our president cares. I listened intently as he outlined his plan to help end gun violence. He said up front that his plan was not a cure-all. I say, it would be a start as the president referred to the “hundreds and thousands of Americans” who have buried family members. “Many have had to learn to live with a disability or learn to live without the love of their life,” he said.
He outlined his plan in his speech:
▪ Anybody in the business of selling firearms must get a license and conduct background checks or be subject to criminal prosecution.
▪ Do everything possible to ensure the “smart and effective enforcement of gun safety laws that are already on the books,” which means that 200 more ATF agents and investigators will be hired. Firearms dealers will be required to report more lost or stolen guns and work with advocates to protect victims of domestic abuse from gun violence.
▪ Help the mentally ill get the help they need. Nearly two in three gun deaths are from suicides. “A lot of our work is to prevent people from hurting themselves,” the president said.
▪ Boost gun safety technology. The president pointed out that many gun injuries and deaths are the result of legal guns that were stolen or misused or discharged accidentally. More than 500 people died in 2013 from gun accidents. That number includes 30 children younger than 5 years old. “If a child can’t open a bottle of aspirin, we should make sure they can’t pull a trigger on a gun,” Obama said.
“Maybe we can’t save everybody,” he said, “but we could save some.”
Obama’s plan makes sense to me. I don’t understand why those who are lobbying against gun control laws can’t see how this plan could help. As an African-American great-grandma, I have seen too many of our neighborhood children die because some unauthorized person had a gun. It almost seems as though our children are being used for target practice for the shooters. And the scariest part about this is that nobody seems to know who the shooters are. And if they do know, they aren’t telling.
The senseless killing must stop. Like the president, I believe in the Second Amendment, which guarantees the right to bear arms. And as he said, I don’t believe his plan is “some slippery slope to mass confiscation [of guns].”
We need to think about the future of our children and join with our president to do something to help keep them safe.
While the president’s plan for gun control may not be perfect, it is a start in the right direction.
TRIP TO ZORA NEALE HURSTON FESTIVAL
The Booker T. Washington Alumni Class of 1960 will sponsor a one-day, round-trip to the Zora Neale Hurston Festival 2016 in Eatonville, Florida, on Jan. 30.
Buses will depart from the Golden Glades terminal (north parking lot) at 6 a.m. and will leave Eatonville at 5:30 p.m. for the return trip.
The BTW fundraiser cost is $80 and includes bus transportation, refreshments and festival admission.
The Central Florida festival will include performances by The Isley Brothers and KEM. If you go, don’t forget to bring a portable chair and a light sweater or jacket. No outside food, beverages or coolers are allowed at the festival.
For more information, call Cornelia Sands at 305-621-6412; Ramona Exum, 305-625-2961; or Jimmie Knowles, 786-356-2282.
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BLACK WOMEN IN CONSTRUCTION LUNCHEON
The South Florida chapter of the National Association of Black Women in Construction invites you to its monthly luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday with networking, followed at noon by lunch.
The event will be at the 94th Aero Squadron Restaurant, 1395 NW 57th Ave.
To make reservations, contact Shirley Everett, president of the organization, at 305-694-3100 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
SPEAKER, KOSHER LUNCH AT TEMPLE BETH TOV AHAVAT SHALOM
Abe Lavender, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian Crypto Jews, will be the guest speaker at noon Sunday at Temple Beth Tov Ahavat Shalom, 6438 SW Eighth St., West Miami.
Lavender will introduce the latest volume of his journal. A kosher lunch will be served. There is no charge, but donations will be greatly appreciated. Call 305-205-3846 for more information.
‘GOLDA’S BALCONY’ TO BE PERFORMED AT TEMPLE EMANU-EL
Golda’s Balcony, the story of Golda Meir, who rose from being an impoverished Russian schoolgirl to become the prime minister of Israel, will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Temple Emanu-El, 1701 Washington Ave., Miami Beach.
The show, produced by Orchard Street Productions, will be presented again at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 17 at Beth Moshe Congregation, 2225 NE 121st St., North Miami.
The Tony-nominated show stars Francine! and is Broadway’s longest-running one-woman show.
Meir became Israel’s fourth prime minister in 1969, when she was elected at age 70. She led the struggling Jewish state through some of its most turbulent times.
William Gibson, who wrote The Miracle Worker and Two for the Seasaw, is the author of Golda’s Balcony.
Francine! has appeared in shows including Gypsy and Hello, Dolly!, in which she played the lead role.
Tickets are on sale at ticketsforplay.com, or by calling 561-902-1500.
JON JAY FMSBONDS CELEBRITY BOWLING CHALLENGE
The fifth annual Jon Jay FMSbonds Celebrity Bowling Challenge will be from 6 to 9 p.m. Jan. 16 at Splitsville Lanes, 5701 Sunset Dr., South Miami.
The event will be hosted by Jon Jay, a St. Louis Cardinals outfielder and Miami native, and Boys and Girls Clubs of Miami-Dade alumnus. All proceeds will benefit Boys and Girls Clubs of Miami-Dade’s Project Learn After-School Program.
The evening will start at 6 p.m. with red carpet arrivals, followed by cocktails and hors d’oeuvres and opening remarks. The Bowling Challenge will begin at 6:30 p.m. and winners will be announced at 8:45 p.m.
Tickets cost $475 for a bowling team of five people; $125 for individual bowler (single bowlers will be matched with other single bowlers), $75for non-bowlers.
During the event, Jay, along with other Major League Baseball stars and local celebrities, will bowl with attendees.
Call Jenna Matthews at 954-723-9350 to make reservations or email email@example.com.
Send all items at least two weeks in advance to Friends and Neighbors, c/o Neighbors, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Pictures are accepted but cannot be returned.