We must take action on gun violence—our children’s future depends on it

by Rep.Jake Wheatley
Last week, I was reminded of some dark realities that have sadly been a constant presence in my life and only moments away.

There have been several shootings around our city in recent days, but the one that took the life of 1-year old Zykier Young in Spring Hill just hits me differently. As a human and as a father, I must ask myself if this violence will ever end?

I have started reading a book by Ta-Nehisi Coates to my 8-year-old son, called “Between the World and Me.” It gives us an opportunity to bond but to also talk about what it means to be a Black man and our role in this world. But, the other night, I just couldn’t do it. It’s too painful to look at my son and know that there just doesn’t seem to be any rest or secure place for us in this world.

When you can’t find safety in the place where you rest your head, and you can’t walk or sit or drive in your neighborhood without fearing death from those who are sworn to protect you and those who you fight to protect, what’s left? Where does the stress and trauma of it all end?

I’m an eternal fighter and believe that I was born to fight for freedom and justice. I believe that we have no choice but to continue pushing ahead, but there are days where it drives me to my sunken place and opens those windows of doubt. We must do better—for our next generation, for our families, for us.

It’s vital we continue to fight against this violence on all fronts in our cities and towns large and small across our great state. Far too many of us have dealt with the anguish, grief and anger that comes after losing a loved one to senseless gun violence. We all deserve to feel safe in our homes and our communities, and the only way we’re going to accomplish this is by working together to make systemic and effective changes to end this scourge, once and for all.

(Rep. Jake Wheatley is Democratic chairman of the Pa. House Finance Committee and represents the 19th Legislative District.)

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