Chicago Student: Violence Won't End Until We "Make Money Out of Peace"

Dennis Johnson believes gun violence is an economic issue.

Posted: 04/15/2013 11:50 AM EDT
Chicago Student: Violence Won't End Until We "Make Money Out of Peace"

On Saturday, Melissa Harris-Perry had an in-depth discussion on her MSNBC show about gun reform, which continues to be the hot-button issue in the country.

During the show, Perry interviewed Dennis Johnson, a Chicago State University student, who said that laws are not enough to stop the gun violence that has plagued certain areas of Chicago and elsewhere. 

“Violence will never cease until we find a way to make money out of peace,” said Johnson, a member of the activist group Black Youth Project. He also added that the people benefiting from the business of cheap guns are not Black people in his community.

“I don’t know one Black supplier, or engineer, or creator of guns,” he said.

MSNBC reports:

So who’s profiting? The estimated impact of the gun industry was almost $32 billion last year alone. And while increasing standards for background checks may be helpful — anywhere from 10 percent to 40 percent of guns purchased are done without a background check — can we assess the true cost of gun violence beyond a homicide count?

Economist Lisa Cook said on Saturday’s show that it may not yet be possible. Referencing Johnson’s statement, she said, “I think this young man is on to something. He is dead right.”

“Until we have the data to be able to calculate the costliness of gun violence — which has been battled by and prohibited by the NRA and its lobbying in Congress — we are not going to be able to realize the real cost of gun violence.”

Johnson, whose brother was hit with seven gunshots in an attack, also mentioned often the emotional cost of gun violence, specifically post-traumatic stress disorder. After Harris-Perry read an excerpt from the first lady’s Chicago speech about Hadiya Pendleton’s parents placing her in several activities to keep her busy and safe, Johnson responded that summer and after-school activities like basketball or chess clubs are temporary solutions at best. “Yes, you can take them off the streets, but they still have to go back home,” he said.

Read full story and watch clip here.

Last week, Michelle Obama made a tearful speech in Chicago and spoke on the need for more sensible gun control laws in the country. Also, parents of Sandy Hook Elementary school victims pushed Congress to pass tougher gun control laws, a task that has lingered now for months.

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(Photo: NBC News)

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