Photo courtesy Maxi Pixel, Creative Commons License
By: Sarai Irizarry Ortiz
“All I ever truly remember is asking god why it had to be my best friend. The person I was most close to. The only sibling I had,” says Elizabeth Granados as she recounts the passing of her brother to gun violence in Mexico.
Elizabeth left Michoacán, Mexico at seventeen, and now lives in Brooklyn with her husband and four children. She remembers that Tuesday, November 15, 2016 clearly. She was on her lunch break. At about 1:45 her phone rang, and her mother’s voice trembled as she told her that her brother James was killed in a gang-related activity.
Recently, sitting on a wooden chair, hands crossed between her legs, Elizabeth recalled the trip to Mexico to see her brother’s dead body and the gun used to kill him. “It was very traumatic for me to see my brother lying there. Not hearing me when I speak, not feeling my touch. Very traumatizing. And the gun? I was shaking when I saw that thing. I’ve never seen a gun prior to my brother’s killing,” she said.
With kids of her own, she worries for their safety and the possibility that gun violence may find them. “At the end of the day, crime is everywhere, guns are everywhere, imagine living in a country where there is absolutely no crime, no killings? It doesn’t exist,” she said.
According to the New York Crime Gun Analysis, New York State has one of the strongest gun safety laws in the country. But even so, criminals still get illegal guns. Seven states known as the “Iron Pipeline” — Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Ohio — supply many of the guns that reach New York.
“I know I live in one of the safest cities in the world, but truth be told anything can happen anywhere at any time. When you come from a place where there are high death rates, you always live at the brink of fear. But you never really believe it could happen to you and it happened to me, I fear for the lives of my children every day. There’s only so much protecting that I can do,” said Elizabeth.
Other New Yorkers say they are wary of guns and know that they are in their neighborhoods. For David Azcona, 23, who was born and raised in Washington Heights, being around guns was all too common.
“I’m so desensitized to shootings that I don’t react the way one should react to them just because I’ve witnessed so many of them. In my opinion, this is something that’s just always going to exist, but I believe New York does the best they can to handle this compared to other cities where gun laws aren’t as strong. In fact, the other day it was reported that for the first time in decades New York City didn’t have a single shooting over the weekend. You know, that’s a big deal, and just shows the great strides this city is taking,” he says.