DUELING WITH WORDS TO STOP GUN VIOLENCE: Wednesday Writing Prompt


Given the media reports on the U.S., you might think we are the only ones with gun violence problems. Unfortunately we are not alone.  According to a Global Burden of Disease study in 2013, firearms were the cause of 180,000 deaths worldwide, up from 128,000 in 1990.  Approximately 47,000 were unintentional.

 “The death toll from small arms dwarfs that of all other weapons systems — and in most years greatly exceeds the toll of the atomic bombs that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In terms of the carnage they cause, small arms, indeed, could well be described as ‘weapons of mass destruction’.” — Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-General, March 2000

According to the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, there are many countries that surpass United States in gun violence. These are largely in the Caribbean and Central America,  the result of gangs and drug trafficking.

A recent feature in Forbes Magazine reports that annual firearm-related deaths in the Philippines are 9.46 per 100,000 and 9.41 per 100,000 in South Africa. According to Kaiser Foundation the U.S. is at 11.1 per 100,000.

“From 1979 to 1997, almost 30,000 people in the United States alone died from accidental firearm injuries. A disproportionately high number of these deaths occurred in parts of the United States where firearms are more prevalent.” Wikipedia

The presence of guns in households and the ease of acquiring guns contribute to the numbers of successful suicides. In fact, my sister died from a self-inflicted gun-shot wound to the head. She was twenty-seven and I was thirteen. It’s been fifty-four years but I have never stopped wondering how and where she acquired a weapon and how she learned to use it.

“There are more than 875 million firearms in the world, 75 per cent of them in the hands of civilians. Guns outnumber passenger vehicles by 253 million, or 29 per cent. Each year about eight million new small arms, plus 10 to 15 billion rounds of ammunition are manufactured — enough bullets to shoot every person in the world not once, but twice.The authorised international trade in small arms and ammunition exceeds US $7.1 billion each year.” GunPolicy.org (hosted by the Sydney School of Public Health)

ACCORDING TO THE GENEVA CONVENTION ON ARMED VIOLENCE AND DEVELOPMENT:

  • More than 740,000 people have died directly or indirectly from armed violence – both conflict and criminal violence – every year in recent years.
  • More than 540,000 of these deaths are violent, with the vast majority occurring in non-conflict settings.
  • The annual economic cost of armed violence in non-conflict settings, in terms of lost productivity due to violent deaths, is USD 95 billion and could reach as high as USD 163 billion – 0.14 percent of the annual global GDP.

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” Mother Teresa

Today, for Wednesday Writing Prompt, we tackle gun violence. In concert with poet Evelyn Augusto of Dueling with Words to Stop Gun Violence, I ask you to bare witness and to do the work of raising the communal consciousness of this critical issue, especially the consciousness of those who feel the need to carry guns, those for whom a gun is part of their identity. This is the first time I’ve invited a guest to post a prompt and I do so because Evelyn has made a commitment to this cause.  You can read more about what she’s doing HERE.

– Jamie Dedes

Photograph courtesy of Tony Webster under CC BY 2.0.


“537 children under the age of eleven have been killed or injured by gun violence in the United States this year alone, according to Gun Violence.org.” Evelyn Augusto


U R Not Your Gun

(For Shaun)

You are: The sound of your mother’s voice calling your name and your father’s
chance for a better life–not his,
but yours, because it’s too late for him,
but not for you…not yet, unless you forget

U R Not Your Gun.

You are your greatest fantasy and
someone’s best friend and another’s
first love. You are shelter
from the storm.
You are memory and risk and reward.
You are tougher than your
disappointments, you are kinder
than you imagine, you are everything
that child you once were
wanted to be and more. But

U R Not Your Gun–

not grey and cold and lifeless.
Not unforgiving like that. Not hollow or predictable. Not dangerous.

U R Not Your Gun. You are someone
I can love.

© October 2017, Evelyn Augusto for GUNS DON’T SAVE PEOPLE POETS DO… 


WEDNESDAY WRITING PROMPT

Write a poem…post a poem….Stop gun violence.

If you feel comfortable, leave your work or a link to it in the comments section below. All work shared on theme will be published by The Poet by Day next Tuesday and also on GUNS DON’T SAVE PEOPLE, POETS DO…DUELING WITH WORDS TO STOP GUN VIOLENCE . Anyone is welcome to take part in Wednesday Writing Prompt no matter the status as a poet: beginning, emerging or established. You have until next Monday at 8 pm PST to respond.


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