Commentary: Smart gun laws combined with a sense of individual purpose can reduce violence

Algenon Cash

Commentary: Smart gun laws combined with a sense of individual purpose can reduce violence
August 15
00:00 2019

By Algenon Cash

The unexpected and tragic death of a local barber, Julius “Juice” Randolph Sampson, Jr., who was shot and killed outside BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse at Hanes Mall, triggered me to recall a speech that I once gave in 2008 after a mass shooting.

The following speech was given on April 16, 2008, at a national event to “Remember the Victims” of the fatal shootings at Virginia Tech, held at college campuses across the country. I was invited to be the keynote speaker of the event hosted at Winston-Salem State University, the only historically black college in the United States to celebrate this national event.

We assembled this morning to bring awareness to an epidemic that plagues our neighborhoods, schools, and community. How ironic to have a clock tower as the backdrop for this national event, because of all of us here today represent a fast growing population of citizens screaming it is TIME for change.  

One year ago today, 32 innocent students and their families had their lives altered in a dramatic way as a result of choices made by one student who lacked compassion and purpose. In spite of the tragedy of this event, our country has experienced an additional 32 school shootings since the date of the fatalities at Virginia Tech.  

The effects of violence is proliferating into the lives of our youth at an alarming rate and is now the primary cause of 48 children and teens being shot per day in a country that is considered the only superpower in the world. Violent acts are no longer isolated to the battlefields. How can we expect to control and reduce violence in Iraq and Afghanistan while it runs rampant right here in the United States? Young people used to fear becoming a victim of an assault at bars and nightclubs, but now they carry the same fear to their libraries and classrooms.

Every year more than 100,000 people in America are victims of violent crimes and everyday 84 people die from gun violence. 

One may suggest that we add more police to patrol our streets, build larger prisons to hold more of these deviant members of our society, and of course, we can draft more legislation to control the lives of our citizens in an effort to provide them with security.  

Every year, our taxpayers foot the bill to operate prisons that release men and women who have not made a fundamental change in their internal behavior. Every year, our local officials increase the budget for additional police protection, but last night a woman was still a victim of a violent domestic disturbance. Our legislators spend countless hours drafting bills to control the decisions of their constituents in the name of government protection, but every day our youth are killing one another.

The path to a community that chooses not to practice violent acts is one that is long, hard, and requires all of us to be willing to sacrifice ourselves to inspire others to make positive changes. Laws traditionally have only kept good and honest people good and honest.  

Like many others, I expressed concern about this young man being able to acquire the necessary firearms to kill and fatally injure 32 of his fellow students, but a deeper question is “what” and “why” did this young man want to commit such a violent act on another human life. His behaviors and actions reveal a lot about his self-perception, lack of purpose, and no true understanding of the value of life.

My life story is the personification of sacrifice and the outcome of what may happen if you dare to dream or chase your vision. Success will not allow its value to be cheapened by associating with luck, because the only way to reach success is to embrace it passionately through a life led with purpose.  

Life is this game of choices and we control our destiny through the choices we make daily. We have no control over the choices and decisions of others or the many other externalities that exist in our society. Every one of us has the ability to control our mind and what we vision, what we act upon, and how we behave.  

Our country can experience unrelenting change if we come together as a community and then sacrifice our time, talent, and energy to help others vision their purpose in life, gain control over their actions, and realize the heights they can reach with positive behavior.

We live in a country with endless possibilities and we have a responsibility to help our young leaders to understand the significance of purpose. All of us are called to share our passion and energy with others to create and foster the long-term sustainability of our neighborhoods and community. Many of us believe our past experiences and current challenges are in control and we are merely their puppets.

I have come to deliver the message that YOU are in control, YOU are the creator of your universe, and it’s TIME, YOU take responsibility for yourself. Take back control of your life by elevating your thinking, actions, and behaviors above past experiences and current challenges.  

I did not come from the right family, the right part of town, I am too young, and my father did not love me, but you are looking at a leader who is rising to greatness. I have proactively chosen to ignore my challenges and perceived failures and focus on the enormous responsibility I have to fulfill my chosen purpose and repay our Creator for the wonderful gift of life.

Each one of us can stop violence in our communities and there is no reason we must feel handicapped into thinking the only way to solve this problem is through more legislation, bigger prisons, and a larger police force.  

Today, we must take responsibility for the condition of our neighborhoods, schools, and community. We have a choice: we can continue to abdicate our responsibility of serving our fellow man or we can develop compassion and a desire to fundamentally shift the tide in our communities through the practice of sacrifice, along with a desire to help people to internally make a change.  

The change I have spoken to you about will not be easily achieved, because we are naturally fearful of the unknown, but if we do not sacrifice today as a community, then tomorrow we will die as individuals.  

We habitually focus our energy on external factors, because we feel that we have the ability to control them. We ignore those factors that are unseen because we fear them. However, we must focus on those things that are unseen, because those things that are seen are temporary, but those things that are unseen are eternal. 

It’s TIME for change.

Algenon Cash is a nationally recognized speaker and the managing director of Wharton Gladden & Company, an investment banking firm. Reach him at

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