Commentary: 'I Just Wish Guns Were Harder To Come By'

Youth Radio's Davina La'Shay shares her unwanted but intimate relationship with guns in her home city of Oakland and how she wants that to change it.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Just a moment ago, we heard Andy talk about a racial divide when it comes to views on gun control. Sixty-eight percent of African-Americans believe it's more important to control gun ownership than it is to protect the rights of Americans to own guns.

And that includes Youth Radio's Davina La'Shay. She's grown up around guns in her community in Oakland, California, and she wants to see that change for the next generation.

DAVINA LA'SHAY, BYLINE: I was sad when I heard about the 26 innocent people who were killed at the school last Friday but I wasn't shocked. Shootings happen everyday, especially where I'm from.

I feel that my life is in danger. I hear gunshots all the time. I've seen people get shot and I've lost a lot of friends and family to gun violence on the streets of Oakland. Many have been innocent victims but too many people I know are also part of the problem, simply because they own guns. And being around guns doesn't make me feel any safer.

I know so many girls who have access to a gun. And most of the boys I know own one. How do they get them? Usually it's women. Older sisters and aunties without criminal records buy them for younger family members, who often scratch off the serial numbers. Where I live, that's how guns get onto the streets and get sold and resold.

It's so common to pack that when my peers throw parties, they hire security to pat people down at the doors. No one brings guns inside parties but within steps of the front door, I guarantee that there are guns stashed in bushes, locked inside cars, ready to go just in case.

People assume that everyone with a gun wants to commit a crime, but not always. A lot of people get guns simply because they're scared. I have a friend who is considerate, generous, and kind. He's fed me when I was hungry and he calls me his family. But even he bought a gun after his sister was brutally murdered for something his brother had done.

My friend got the gun for protection but now he's caught in the cycle. People who have guns are more likely to use them. If you're scared, you want to eliminate the thing that threatens you, even if that thing is a person.

I don't know what the answer is because I don't think there's any one answer that'll solve gun violence in my community. I just wish guns were harder to come by. Maybe then, teenagers in my neighborhood would worry about getting their first job or first car before they think about getting their first gun.

For NPR News, I'm Davina La'Shay.

SIEGEL: And Davina La'Shay's commentary was produced by Youth Radio.

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