Across the United States people are grieving the senseless taking of human life last week. We mourn the traumatic and horrifying events in Buffalo, Laguna Woods, and Uvalde. From the elderly who were killed in Buffalo, to the churchgoers in Laguna and the children in Uvalde, this continued loss of life can and must end.
These killings highlight the continued struggle in the US against violence. Incidents like these serve as a stark reminder that we are not immune or exempt from the deadly and destructive consequences of normalized hate and the unfettered access to weapons.
When exploring how to address violence around the world, people often fail to recognize that violent conflict is happening in the United States with alarming frequency. Peacebuilding is as crucial in the United States as it is anywhere else.
Supporters of gun rights in the US have often espoused the mantra: “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun.” This perspective is rooted in the troubling notion that peace, security, and justice can only be effective if we invest in weapons of violence. Data has clearly proven this to be false. Violence can never be transformed and addressed through further violence. If the US is to be a global leader for peace, security, and justice, it must address the increased incidences of mass murder within its borders.
Peacebuilders are already working in this space to shine a light in the darkness. Organizations like Violence Interrupters of Washington D.C. campaigning against gun violence and training young people through the DC Peace Academy. Eaton DC has provided a platform for peacebuilding leaders to share their stories of hope by hosting Peace Direct’s Peace Talks to highlight the work of local peacebuilders around the world.
At Peace Direct, we mapped hundreds of peacebuilding organizations across the United States. We also worked with Bridging Divides Initiative to track and mitigate political violence. Our maps cross-reference local peacebuilding organizations and hotspots for violence to help grow and build local community resilience. While the maps are not exhaustive, they illustrate the amazing work local peacebuilders are doing throughout the US.
Those who block legislative change on weapon access do so at the expense of young children, BIPOC communities, and ordinary citizens. In the inherent pursuit of a more just union, we must reckon with the elements fueling violence, and look to nonviolent alternatives. This should include working with community-based organizations, to address the root causes of violence sustainably and effectively in the United States and globally. Above all, we must hold on to hope that things can be different if we work together for sustainable peace.