No more guns

2015-05-05 06:00

“You have power.”

This is the message a young Kensington activist is hoping to send through a series of workshops tackling gun violence. The first of these workshops took place on Thursday 26 March with representatives of Gun Free South Africa.

Resident Lanina Rasool organised the event after attending a workshop with the organisation last year, through Activate Change drivers – a network of young leaders who are driving change across the country.

“I attended the workshop in Cape Town and was amazed how they contextualised the violence, its effect on and relationship to us. I was also inspired by the possibility of one day living in a not just gun-free, but violence-free world – what that would look and feel like?” she asks.

This was highlighted by the death of 16-year-old Shaundre Arries, who was struck by a stray bullet, Rasool says.

“She was not someone who was involved in gangs, or whose family owned a gun and had an accident. Not even someone who had any relation to the violence at all – she was an innocent bystander, just driving by. This touched me on such a deep level,” she says.

GunFreeSA estimates 35% of all murders involve a firearm, with over 6 400 people killed by guns in 2009.

But instead of picking up guns, Rasool believes the community should arm themselves with information.

“The aim of the workshop is to inform the community about ways we can address the gun violence in our community, focusing on non-violent actions we can take such as declaring gun-free zones and sending the message that we are against this violence,” she says.

This will also empower residents, Rasool believes, to raise their voices against violence.

“By declaring our parks and schools gun-free zones, we are telling criminals and gangsters that we don’t want guns around our children and in our community. We are here, we live here, we have a voice and our voices are saying no to gun violence,” she says.

Not only is it important for the perpetrators of gun violence to know this, Rasool insists, but it is important for the community to express themselves.

She hopes to hold workshops once a month to allow all residents access to information. However, these workshops are currently still in the planning stage

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