The Revolving door of gun control

By Oreoluwa Ojewuyi, Staff Reporter

Gun violence has exploded in Carbondale throughout the years. As the violence spreads community members have come together to locate the source of the issue and put in place necessary methods of action. 

Ginger Rye Sanders was recently elected to the Carbondale City Council. Sanders said gun violence is not just a national issue but that the Carbondale community has been especially affected by it. 

“I was born and raised in Carbondale. When I moved away and came back and when I found out that this was the fourth most dangerous town in Illinois. There are 49 crimes to every 1000 people in Carbondale,” Sanders said. “There’s a lot of gun violence.”

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Sanders said gun violence is concentrated in the northeast side of Carbondale. 

“It’s a lot of shooting that goes on in Carbondale that’s not even reported to the police department. I live here, I lay in my bed and I hear gunshots,” Sanders said. “The city’s gonna have to come together with the neighbors, and we’re gonna have to try to come up with a plan.”

Jay’Quan Campbell disarmed a fellow Carbondale Community High School Student on the bus alongside his younger brother Xe’Quan. Campbell lost his brother Xe’Quan to a separate incident of gun violence shortly after. Campbell said gun violence was a large part of his life growing up.

“We grew up on the east side of Carbondale. Growing up where we grew up, gun violence has always been a thing, but it never really targeted me and my brother until we got older. It was just something that we knew happened around us that we were acclimated to, to a certain extent, until it happened directly to us,” Campbell said. 

Campbell said he and his brother were aware that gun violence happened but did not expect it to directly impact their family like it did. 

“After everything that happened it made me realize gun control is so lax here. We need to figure out a way to control it and regulate it better than we are now,” Campbell said.
Sanders said accountability is the first step to stop the gun violence occurring in Carbondale. 

“I believe that there are a lot of young people that have managed to buy or to get access to a gun, and that’s troubling to me. How in the world does a 16-year-old have guns,” Sanders said. “When we start dealing with making people accountable we’re going to eradicate a lot of these problems that we have out in the streets.” 

Sanders said many young people turn to gun violence as a way of expressing themselves. 

“They pull guns out when they’re mad, they pull guns out when one of their family members gets into conflict with another family member,” Sanders said. “They don’t know anything about conflict resolution. This is how the younger generation deals with problems and is so sad that we have come to this in America, and in Carbondale.”

Campbell said gun culture is a way of survival for many. 

“Everybody around here has to survive and everybody has that risk of fatality. Where we live on the east side it is poverty stricken. You have to have one to survive because everyone else has one and you need to protect yourself,” Campbell said. 

Sanders said mindset has a lot to do with how we handle the issue of gun violence in the Carbondale area. 

“We need to look right inside ourselves right here. When we become quiet, we become part of the problem,” Sanders said. 

Sanders said we can begin to change the mindset around gun culture through education. 

“I do believe that education will help those who want to be educated. People need to make informed decisions and have a strong knowledge base on guns – knowing how to handle a gun, knowing how to clean a gun and, knowing how to be a good steward over it,” Sanders said. 

Sanders said a strong sense of community and more mentorship would be beneficial for young adults who might be involved or subject to gun violence in the Carbondale area. 

“People move in [town] and we don’t get to know them and they don’t really want to become part of the community. Then for the children they are missing those positive images that we should have in our community,” Sanders said. 

Nancy Maxwell is one of the founders of Carbondale United which is an organization aimed at stopping the violence and providing justice to victims of violence in the area. Maxwell agrees that there needs to be more focus on community development in order to curb the rate of gun violence in  Carbondale.  Last December Maxwell planned an event to speak with the Carbondale youth. 

“We planned with basketball and football players from the NBA and NFL to come to a virtual summit and talk to the youth. We also did a survey to see what the community needed. For some it was employment and others a community center,” Sanders said. “I feel like if the community is able to raise money for a dog park, they should be able to raise money for a community center.” 

There should be more positive images that young people can look up to, Sanders said. 

 “There should be young people that go to work, union workers, plumbers, electricians and even the image of a black policeman or people in the military. Somebody that looks like them would be a great example,” Sanders said. 

Maxwell said the Carbondale Police Department is encouraging minority communities to apply for positions. 

“They have a program  that offers an apprenticeship period where people can try it out. At the end of the period they will basically be ready to go to the academy. A lot of people say diversifying the force will help the community,” Maxwell said. 

Maxwell said she doesn’t necessarily know if a diverse police force will help stop gun violence. 

“Lately, all we’ve been seeing is the white officers not trying with a black person, I’ve definitely seen them try with white people. I imagine that an officer that looks like me would actually understand how to help me,” Maxwell said. 

There have been national efforts in the last five years to address the issues of gun violence occurring the United States. There has been lobbying and funding to aid gun control and gun rights groups. 

(See more: Gun Rights vs Gun Control • OpenSecrets

Campbell said he believes events and programs to stop the violence only help in the moment and after events of gun violence occur the discourse and action disappears.

“It’s not actively stopping people from doing the things that they’re doing now. What we need to do is to inform, reform and regulate the amount of guns in this country,” Campbell said.

Staff Reporter Oreoluwa Ojewuyi can be reached at [email protected] or on twitter @odojewuyi. To stay up to date with all your southern Illinois news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.

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