There I was at standing at my 22 year-old brother’s casket in total disbelief, trying to wrap my head around how this was even possible. I kept telling myself over and over again that this is not happening. Incredulity filled my heart and my mind; I just wanted out of the building. As I quickly turned to walk away, it hit me like a heavyweight champions punch, I will never be able to hear my brothers voice again, and I deflated like a balloon losing total control of my body and collapsed. My aunts and uncles had to help me get back on my feet as I cried and shouted, “I don’t understand.”
My brother was murdered and the weapon was a gun. One shot to the head.
Over the course of a year in grief I delved into survivor's remorse. At 10 years-old, I was walking down the street heading home from the library when suddenly, a group of older boys surround me, pointing a gun and demanding my pair of shoes and coat. At 14 years old, at a high school basketball game, I guide my friends and classmates to safety after shots rang out. At 17 years old, along with two other unarmed friends, we were surrounded by police officers with guns drawn on us; then separated, interrogated and profiled. Air Force Special Operations Command classified missions. I survived them all.
My brother couldn’t survive a New Year’s celebration? It didn’t make any sense.
Eventually one of the senior leaders in my squadron noticed that I hadn’t taken any vacation time since returning to work from my brother’s funeral. I had excessive vacation time in which there were two options use it or lose it. He asked me why I hadn’t taken any time off and I broke down all over again, as if I was still at that casket. After some much needed rest, relaxing and counseling from an Air Force Chaplain, I began the process of healing.
I put in a request for a new assignment to England, that’s right the United Kingdom and got it. Over the next four years I felt completely safe in Lakenheath Village and everywhere I went to in the UK. The only gun shots I ever heard was on base at the firing range, when I had to re-qualify on the M-16 and 9MM. For the first time in my life I didn’t feel threatened by anyone.
Within hours of my return back home to America, there it was, a man with a huge Confederate flag painted on his truck and two rifles seated in a gun rack openly displayed through the back window.
I was back at home.
The intent of the 2nd Amendment was to limit government power. The goal was to protect individual freedom. However, Virginia was in opposition to the word “Country” in the initially proposed Second Amendment instead of the word “State.” During that time states had militias, however Southern states also had Slave Patrols; in which both were controlled by the states, not the country.
March 29, 2018 - Sergeant Givens, US Air Force Retired leads hundreds of University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill students, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Students shooting survivors and victims relatives in a 17-Second salute; in honor of the 17 victims and others lost due to gun violence at the UNC Rally for Our Lives, UNC Quad (Photo: Kaaren Haldeman, Moms Demand Action - North Carolina)
Dr. Carl T. Bogus wrote for the University of California Law Review in 1998, “The Georgia statutes required patrols, under the direction of commissioned militia officers, to examine every plantation each month and authorized them to search ‘all Negro Houses for offensive Weapons and Ammunition’ and to apprehend and give twenty lashes to any slave found outside plantation grounds.”
In Louisiana, any Blacks could be stopped, and if necessary, beat for carrying any potential weapon, such as a cane. If a Black person refused to stop on demand, and was on horseback, patrols were authorized to “shoot to kill.” Well regulated militias kept my ancestors enslaved and unarmed for centuries.
In some states, a choice had to be made between the fear of rebelling Native Americans or Africans. From the San Miguel de Guadalupe to the MIna Slave Rebellions, Africans fighting for their liberation influenced this law.
The 2nd Amendment is rooted in gun control. It is rooted in racial control. Whether for the purpose of self defense, against tyranny or the protection of slave patrols, the 2nd Amendment was never inspired by freedom. It’s source is fear. A fear that paralyzes America today to do nothing.
Americans live in so much fear, that we do nothing as over 30,000 people a year, 90 a day are shot and killed. We do nothing, as older white men commit suicide with a gun, and younger black men are 13 times more likely to die by a gun. We didn’t do anything when 20 children between six and seven years old were gunned down in their classroom.
We live in a nation that has organized itself for military conflict and violence at all cost.
We now have an arsenal of more than 7,000 nuclear bombs, second to none; on top of more than 300 million guns, half of all the guns in the world. America is sitting on a powder keg unlike any nation in the world.
The militarization of our society is being misjudged as a strength when in reality it’s our greatest weakness. We know who, what, when, where and how. We don’t ever want to discuss why.
Today, our children are making a demand to talk about this; they understand a law of nature, that too much of anything is too dangerous. Too much oxygen, we all burn. Too little oxygen, we all choke. Life requires balance.
These kids understand that. Watch the incredible video from the March for Our Lives Rally that features Gerald D. Givens, Jr.