Change the culture of gun violence

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Jeremy Brigham, guest columnist

The Concert Across America to End Gun Violence is a national effort to bring attention to the need to pass stronger background checks on guns. More than 80 percent of Americans support background checks. Even a large majority of gun owners and NRA members support them. Thus, we need not put up with a culture of intimidation preventing strong gun laws. We must reduce gun deaths across the country, which reached more than 33,000 in two recent years — one-third of those homicides, two-thirds suicides. Many more people have been injured, some permanently.

Cedar Rapids is not exempt from gun violence. Last September, a 14-year-old boy shot a 15-year-old, and in March two men were shot and killed in another neighborhood. In October, police who had been fired upon shot a young man with a gun in yet a third neighborhood. Despite being a small city, Cedar Rapids every year has instances of tragic gun deaths.

Iowans for Gun Safety has developed a local concert featuring musicians and speakers with many different backgrounds. The concert will be from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Sunday at the CSPS Hall, 1103 Third St SE. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 on the day of the event. The concert’s purpose is to strengthen the resolve of those who want strong gun laws that can reduce gun violence.

The concert will feature several musical groups. Among them:

• Sound System, with Justin Chastain, keyboard, and C.W. Smith, guitar, both vocalists well known in Des Moines.

• Summit, a jazz quartet with John Hall, electric bass; John Reasoner, guitar; Peter Hart, saxophone; and Dennis McPartland, drums.

• Loralee Songer, professor of music at Coe College, an opera singer.

• DaMu Doolin, gospel and neo soul.

• Lack of Zen, Americana Music, Bill Nicholson, bass guitar and vocalist.

• Jazz Transit Light, a sextet from Kirkwood Community College, led by Fred Kiser.

Community leaders will share brief messages, including Susan and Art Staed, Carletta Knox Seymour, Imam Hassan Selim, Barbara Chadwick, community health manager at Linn County Public Health, Assistant Linn County Attorney Nick Maybanks and Dr. Carlos Grant, interim principal at Washington High School.

The twofold purpose of the program is to uplift the community with many different kinds of music, and to give voice to community members who need to work together to reduce gun violence. Just think, 250 communities across the country are having concerts for the same purpose! We can change the culture of intimidation through music and a community dedicated to change.

• Jeremy Brigham is executive director of Iowans for Gun Safety. Comments: drjjbrigham@gmail.com

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