During my stay at BBH NY we came up with an idea to promote common sense gun reform. The idea required for celebrities to write a presidential speech.. It seemed simple in theory. Send e-mails to celebrity managers. Pitch the idea. Pay them nothing. Easy.
NOT. AT. ALL. THE CASE.
After emailing 180 + managers and talking on the phone with more than 20 we couldn't get anyone to get on board with the project.
One day, out of nowhere we received and email from email@example.com. We couldn't believe that The New York Times best selling author, lawyer, chef, ABC hit show inspiration "Fresh of the Boat" and Vice/LAND star Eddie Huang was interested in the project. Eddie proved that he truly cares about this issue and he really wanted to express his mind about it.
I’ve always said I’m not a chef; I’m also not a politician; I’m a person. As a person, I follow issues because what defines community are shared problems. As a community, we find solutions. Yet, every day I look up and our communities are being torn apart person to person by this thing called politics. When it comes to gun violence, there’s no room for politics. Gun violence is a human issue that must be solved with a community solution. I believe we can do this because I believe we are still a community.
As a teenager, guns were pulled on me twice. Both times I was at parties, both times people argued, and both times I remember thinking: guns aren’t part of the deal. There was no debate, there was no discussion, and there was nothing about the barrel of those guns that displayed any sense of maturity or understanding. Guns are phallic death machines peddling premature finality contrary to all the morals and values of our civilization. Nothing about our beliefs are reflected in a gun yet we constantly defend the right to bear them because we fear those that wield them. Guns have more rights than some people in this country and I refuse to watch another person die for the rights of a lifeless gun.
Violence is all around us. There’s violence in survival; there’s violence in our surroundings; and, there’s violence within ourselves. As humans, we’ve created arenas and compromises accepting the inevitability of violence in places like sports or the economy. After seeing the countless cases of CTE, it became clear that football had to change. In 2009 we watched the global economy crash due to predatory loans and constant deregulation. So America got to work and made it known that these loans were too violent as well. In all of these instances, we accepted that violence persists and we accepted the responsibility as a community to create a safer space. So what gives with gun violence?
I understand that because guns exist, we have the right to bear them and defend ourselves from those with them. I understand that guns have successfully been used to defend this country against tyranny, but I want to maintain that guns themselves are not what freed us. It is people, it is communities, it is ideas, and it is the truth that ultimately free us all. Perhaps in the right hands with the proper intentions, guns can further or at least protect the pursuit of happiness, but as it stands today, the right to bear arms has been completely and utterly abused.
The conversation about guns is flooded with ideas of freedom, constitution, and identity, yet it is these very guns we’ve anchored our ideas of liberty to that oppress us by the day.
Some of us push the responsibility to gun manufacturers. The manufacturers push it to gun owners. The law abiding gun owners push it to those with mental disabilities and malice of heart, then round and round we go. Ultimately 27 Americans pay the price every day. 27 people. That is the number of people that die of gun violence every day in America. Those are our brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers. 27 people we’ll never get back. 27 people who lose limb, life, and liberty to a gun.
People say guns don’t kill people, people kill people. That is absolutely untrue. People manufacture guns. People sell guns. People buy guns. People pull guns. People shoot guns and people DIE by the gun. At every point of a gun’s creation, manifestation, and explosion, there are people involved. People are inextricably linked to every moment of a gun’s existence and you cannot separate the two. We brought these death machines into our world and it’s our responsibility as a community to control them. Guns as a whole have usurped the human logic of their parts.
If we want to exercise the right to bear arms, we as Americans have to earn it. With all of our rights, we have to pay taxes. We have to abide by the law. In many ways, every single one of our rights is EARNED. This country was built. It was earned. And frankly, we still have a lot of unpaid bills to certain individuals who physically put this country on its back, but that’s a conversation for another time. Despite what the NRA tells you, ALL of our rights are earned and we have not earned the right to bear arms of late.
We should look at the atrocities happening in our communities and say “Perhaps we haven’t earned the right to bear arms today? 27 people were killed again.” With all the conflict swirling in the world today, our communities don’t have the strength to harbor guns at this time. Until we can cross the racial, sexual, ideological and economic chasms that exist in our country, we have to put the guns down. One day when we’ve earned the right, I’ll welcome them back in our lives.