Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity hosts 2nd forum on gun violence

Months after its initial session in May 2021, the Philadelphia Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. hosted a second forum on mental health and the role it plays with gun violence.

Returning speakers of Tuesday night’s event included Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, District Attorney Larry Krasner, community activist Bilal Qayyum, and documentarian Samson Styles. The objective was to address questions and develop concrete answers to the massive gun violence plaguing the city.

The virtual panel was moderated by attorney Michael Coard, who gave good examples of his own legal cases during the discussion. The event also featured Dr. Ingrid Tulloch, assistant professor of psychology at Morgan State University and Anthony Luker, education and outreach specialist for the office of Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro.
The event began with a conversation about mental health challenges and dealing with the trauma of gun violence.

“It starts with the structural inequities that affect race, class and gender,” Outlaw said. “We need more programs with alternative strategies, especially for women and children. Just calling the police to address a problem is not the sole answer.”

Tulloch added that both issues are not mutually exclusive.

“Trauma equates to violence and violence begets violence. Also, law enforcement induces trauma while not dealing with their own. We must equip people with healthy coping mechanisms,” Tulloch said.

Samson Styles, who is a victim of gun violence himself, says, “It is a sickness that is as American as apple pie. We glorify it as something normal.”

Qayyum, a longtime activist, said he believes that the community must also be accountable.

“We must take ownership. You also need to have faith. Faith leads to value which results in love for one another,” he said.

Krasner said the problem is the amount of guns on the street.

“The rights of gun owners outweighs people’s rights to be safe. You have legislators who care more about guns than they do people. Krasner also referred to the abundant increase in gun sales during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According the 2020 Pennsylvania State Police Firearms Annual Report, a total of 1,141,413 firearms were reported sold or privately transferred in the commonwealth, a 49% increase over 2019. The state police also processed 1,445,910 background check requests, a 47.2% increase over 2019.

Luker said the attorney general’s office does what they can to monitor gun sales in the Pennsylvania.

“We have a heavy presence at gun shows to help ensure that sales are done properly by dealers and attendees,” he said.

Outlaw and Krasner agreed that it is extremely easy for individuals to obtain weapons through ghost gun sales and online.

“The shooters and victims are getting younger and younger and you are able to purchase a gun kit online, which is legal,” Outlaw said.

“You can put those kits together in 10 minutes and now you have a gun,” Krasner added.

Another topic for the panel was eliminating the need for using a gun during any conflict.

“We need to minimize the need to use a gun when there is the slightest mental strain,” Tulloch said. “Intervention must be in place through the community and the courts. Reducing the need reduces the use.”

Panelists said that social media plays a major factor in gun violence and trauma. It can place a premium on self-value and self-worth even among adults. Styles affirms. “Social media disputes cause the need for redemption. We should help our youth to pique their interests and channel that in a productive way.” Luker said. “Social media moves faster than anything else. It creates a currency perhaps bigger than money: street cred and clout.”

With problems, panelists said that there must be solutions and initiatives.

“This is why I started the Police Youth Advisory Commission,” Outlaw said. “We don’t just want to give them a voice or a seat at the table. We want to empower them and address the root causes.”

Qayyum agreed with the police commissioner.

“We must communicate with our youth,” he said. Let’s change their mindset, value and mental attitude.”

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Months after its initial session in May 2021, the Philadelphia Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. hosted a second forum on mental health and the role it plays with gun violence. Returning speakers of Tuesday night’s event included Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, District Attorney Larry Krasner, community activist Bilal Qayyum, and documentarian…

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