Our Founder & CEO Paul Caccamo suggests that youth sports - specifically sports-based youth development - is the intervention tool we need to combat violence in this country. Read his response to Robbie Whelan’s recent Wall Street Journal article.
I'm not writing this blog to debate gun control and whether or not you have the right to bear arms. I'm writing this blog to discuss the dollars that go into this debate versus solving the real problem at the community level of raising a generation of Americans who value and respect life.
Let's start with the facts. Every year in this country about 3000 children lose their lives to gun violence. Another 17,500 youth are injured from guns. A large number of the victims of this violence go unnoticed because they live in poorer, mostly minority communities where gun violence is commonplace and barely makes the nightly news.
However, this is all starting to change. Gun violence involving children has now gone prime time. This is partly due to the random nature of some of the most recent incidents, the fact that these crimes are occurring in wealthier communities and the sudden attention given to this problem at the national level by politicians. And with prime time coverage, comes the debate and money being spent to fuel it.
If I had one cent of every dollar the NRA spent this past year, I would have $2,300,000. That's right, more than 2 million dollars!
I would use this money to engage 32,500 kids in safe, structured after-school programs in the communities in this nation with the highest rates of gun violence. I would ensure these kids have sports teams to belong to that reinforce life skills development and not gangs that condition them towards violence. I would do this by hiring 200 adults to be "coach-mentors" for these kids everyday of the year. I would train these coaches to use the power of sports to address conflict resolution, trauma and other mental health issues that these young people confront on a regular basis. I would help these coaches maximize their time with these kids so that these vulnerable youth experience positive relationships with other youth, their coaches and community volunteers. I would measure the success of these programs through the reduction of violent acts that take place among the youth participants and within our communities.
If I had one penny of every NRA dollar…I'd put it to less talk and more action.
Paul Caccamo Executive Director