Gun violence is felt everywhere in America. On Nov. 27, Rio’s community fell victim to gun violence.
Dewayne James Jr. and his younger brother Sa’quan Reed-James were shot and killed at Arden Fair Mall. Sa’quan was a Rio student and active on the football team, Dewayne a graduate. At 17 and 19 years old, these boys had so much life left to live.
“I liked to call him the Southern Gentleman,” said Rio Americano football coach Sammy Stroughter, recalling Sa’Quan’s polite attitude and kind spirit. “If you ever saw Sa’Quan walk into a room, he’s changing people’s smiles and their energy.”
At the candlelight vigil which took place on Dec. 1, I interviewed Olivia Lawson who shared she felt heartbroken to see these brothers go.
“It’s disappointing and heartbreaking because these brothers died for no reason,” Lawson said.
Seeing the Rio Americano community come together for the first time in months due to such a sad circumstance was extremely emotional and heartbreaking.
Friends and family will mourn these boys forever, boys who simply walked into the mall on Black Friday and never made it out.
As a community we need to advocate for safer gun laws. Why was Damario Beck, the man charged with Saquan and Dewayne James’ death, ever in possession of a gun?
An 18-year-old shouldn’t be in possession of a gun. Although anyone over 18 is considered an adult, the human brain doesn’t fully develop until 25. Damario Beck, only 18 years old, didn’t have the proper reasoning skills to safely handle a gun.
A gun makes bad decisions fatal. The moment a finger pressed a trigger, a family which had moved here to save their boys now had to send them home to Louisiana to be buried.
In a study conducted in 1967 researchers found that when a weapon such as a gun is present in a situation it can lead to more aggressive behavior.
An argument becomes a murder. A bout of depression becomes a suicide. A mental illness becomes a massacre.
Everyday over 100 Americans are killed with guns and over 230 are shot and wounded. How do we let these numbers pile up? How did we let ourselves become numb?
When faces and futures become numbers and names, we are stripped of our ability to feel loss. We shake our heads at the gun violence in America, but when will we raise our voice? How can we help keep guns out of the hands of youth?
We can vouch for stricter gun control laws. 10 percent of states go beyond federal law and require background checks for unlicensed gun sales. The same states are associated with 10 percent lower homicide rates.
Yet, 22 percent of Americans report acquiring their most recent gun without a background check. Why are our states turning a blind eye to gun stores selling guns to unqualified people? What value do profits from gun sales have over lives saved?
To keep our community safe report any violence you see in person or on social media to Safe Schools – Report a Safety Issue.
Remember Dewayne James Jr and Sa’Quan Reed James.
Remember that the victims of gun violence are not just headlines on the news but people with faces, thoughts, dreams, futures, friends and family. These boys will never get to live out their dreams, and this family will never be reunited.
How will our society survive when our young people are being murdered everyday?