Interview: Brandon Shell
Updated: Jun 9, 2022
How would you define the problem of gun violence?
I would define it as the number one problem in America. Too easy access to guns, too many young people with guns, not properly knowing how to use them, too many young people dealing with trauma with guns: I think guns are the number one thing we need to tackle. I think they’re everywhere, they’re flowing, everybody got ‘em. Accidental deaths, on purpose, people killing each other: I think if we lessen access to the guns, it’ll be less people that are harmed. I think the argument would end less violently if the gun wasn’t so accessible.
When did gun violence first appear in your life?
Since I can remember. When I was a kid, I think I was about 10, I seen that somebody died in our neighborhood. That was the first time I can remember that, like, it was right there. You seen the blood on the concrete.
What do you know about the history of gun violence?
What I know about the history of gun violence is that it’s been around since wars: We were taught it in school, that they settled differences through violence, gun violence. So, from the beginning of time, that I can remember, most disputes were settled with war and violence, so that’s the history I know about.
What would you say causes gun violence?
What would I say causes gun violence? Lack of better ways to resolve disputes. I think that’s what causes gun violence. If we had other ways to resolve an argument or solve a problem, it would be less violence with guns. And I think it’s too accessible to young kids. If you’re 14, 18, you’re young, your mind ain’t developed, why are you having a gun?
What do you believe is the solution to ending gun violence?
What I believe the solution to ending gun violence is take some of the guns off the streets. I think better role models in the communities for these young people. Give us our programs back. When I was a kid, we had Late Night, we had gyms we could go to. Give us those things back. I think that if the kids had more positive things to do, more positive people in the community to look to, they would have other things to do. I think that we need to redefine what cool looks like. Like, let’s take away the drug dealer being cool: Make us cool, the people that’s doing this work. Pay people a better salary so they can drive up in that Benz, and the kid can wanna be like you instead of being like the drug dealer. I think that if we define or reprogram what they think, then I think the violence would go down because we’re teaching them something different or better ways to deal with things.
What are you committed to doing to end gun violence?
I’m committed to doing whatever it takes. I’m committed to dedicating my time. Whatever role I need to play, whether it’s big or small: Just tell me where to go. I’ll do anything to help young people not go through some of the trauma that I’ve been through.
What is your vision for the Beloved community when gun violence is eradicated?
My vision for the community when gun violence is eradicated is a total healing. I think that so many people that lost loved ones are dealing with so much pain – on top of pain, on top of pain – so I’m hoping that once this is eradicated, we can heal our community. Not nobody come in and heal us: We heal ourselves from the inside.
What is your personal call to action to ending gun violence?
My personal call to action to ending gun violence is more resources. Give us more resources. Not money: resources. Give us resources, give our young people access to things that are positive. Don’t block them because of a felony. Take some of these restrictions away, so that when you’re young and you make a bad decision, you can rebound from that and still have life to live. So, my personal thing I would ask is more resources. If they make a mistake, let it be a mistake. Don’t let it mess up the rest of their life. And more access to do different things. It’s not about money. They’ve done funded this thing a million times, but when they give you the money, they tell you how you can use it. So, you’re not helping me if you’re just telling me how to do something. We know what works, you don’t. So, I think we need the resources under our control.