The Fourth of July is an awesome holiday, with food, bright firecrackers lighting up the night sky, and nice hot days—but are all the popping sounds really from firecrackers? Around this time of year, the death rate goes up because the sounds of guns are masked by the sounds of the wonderful fireworks.
According to Boston police statistics cited in the Boston Herald, 123 people were injured by gunshots as of the Fourth of July in 2017. During that same period last year, 95 people were shot, a 29.5 percent surge.
The rise in violence from last year to this year is startling for teens. “As a fellow teen who lives in one of those neighborhoods, it makes me feel on edge for myself and for my peers,” said Kelis Greenidge, 15, a student at Cristo Rey Boston. “I always have to be alert and cautious no matter what I am doing, because nowadays, something so little can be made big and create problems that can harm me and the ones I love.” Ariana Haywood, 15, attending Community Charter School in Cambridge, said both her cousin and aunt were killed while in a corner store.“I should feel safe to go to the store,” she said.
Teens have been asked what should be done to keep the communities safe. Greenidge suggested that we as teens should take action. “I feel the city of Boston is trying do as much as they can to protect the youth and the elders living here,” she said. “Now, I just feel like it’s up to us, the upcoming youth, to stick together and take a stand against violence and put our foot down and say that we don’t want this anymore. We don’t want calls at 3 in the morning saying one of out relatives have been murdered or shot.”
Teens are also unsure if the police can help lower the crime rate at all. “I feel as though that would be good if they did,” Greenidge said. “But it’s also an iffy type of situation because of the killings of unarmed black teens by cops that we’ve seen in the past and in the present. It could be a good idea, but it also may just make people feel a lot more nervous in their own neighborhoods.”
Zoe Grover, executive director of Newton’s Stop Handgun Violence, thinks we need to take action to reduce gun violence for the sake of everyone in Boston. “There is just too much shooting going on and I want to do something about it rather than just sitting around sad, waiting for the next funeral,” she said. According to Grover, education is key. “We try to engage with young people and gun owners on social media, spreading our message of how to stay safe when there are guns around,” she said. “We pass out trigger locks and encourage gun owners to lock their guns.”
Through these steps, maybe by the next Fourth of July we can take strides to reduce gun violence in our city.