Magazine article New York Times Upfront

'We Didn't Plan to Be Gun-Control Activists'

Magazine article New York Times Upfront

'We Didn't Plan to Be Gun-Control Activists'

Article excerpt

People say you can't fight City Hall. But after spending five years urging the Los Angeles City Council to pass gun-control legislation, we have learned it's worth a try.

We didn't plan to be gun-control activists. We were in fourth grade when Ennis Cosby, the son of actor Bill Cosby, was shot and killed a block from our school in 1997. A few weeks later, two bank robbers wielding assault rifles terrorized our neighborhood when they sprayed the streets with hundreds of bullets in an hour.

These incidents left us frightened, so we started following the issue of gun violence. We got frustrated when we saw ceremonies at City Hall to honor the victims, but no attempt to prevent it from happening again. At the same time, there were a bunch of school shootings around the country. With kids killing kids, it really became an issue for us.

We decided to take action. The first place we went was the library. Some of the books listed organizations that deal with gun violence, so we called them. That's how we learned that 50 kids are killed by guns in Los Angeles each year and that twice as many are injured by guns.

The project kind of snowballed--it was as if we'd been given an assignment, but the fact that we were doing it on our own made it all the more heartfelt for us. We decided that adults were not doing enough to keep kids safe, so we started a group called kidz Voice-LA. We collected more than 7,000 signatures of kids on a petition asking Los Angeles to ban the sale of all ammunition. …

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