• God Before Guns

What is the Price on the right to live?



Statement by Rev. Heidi L. Barham, Board Member, God Before Guns

Delivered at Cleveland Heights Democracy Day, Jan. 30, 2020


Good evening,

I am here this evening as a member of the board of God Before Guns, which is a “is a multi-faith coalition of individuals and faith communities working to reduce gun injuries and deaths.” I am here also as a wife, mother of two and grandmother of eight… three girls and five boys, all under the age of eighteen.


And I am also here because just over two months ago, an 11-year old schoolmate of my grandchildren, Tyshaun Taylor, was killed at a friend’s birthday party. A birthday party… a time when people are supposed to be celebrating another year of life but instead, a mother was left grieving the death of her child, all because some teenagers were playing a game and had easy access to a gun.


Following Tyshaun’s death, an article was published in Newsweek, which cited statistics obtained from the Gun Violence Archive which stated that as of the end of November, 190 children aged up to 11 had been killed by a firearm in the U.S. since the beginning of 2019, with another 432 having been injured. Added to that was 688 children between the ages of 12 and 17 who had been killed by a gun in that same period, with 2,075 children in the same age bracket sustaining firearm-related injuries. That means in an eleven-month period, nearly 900 children died as a result of gun violence with another 2,500 being injured. (https://www.newsweek.com/ohio-boy-shot-party-tyshaun-taylor-cleveland-1473814)


And sadly, as horrible as those statistics sound, there are those who will pay absolutely no attention to the numbers that I just shared, because they are only concerned with one number, the number 2 – as in the 2ndAmendment. And all they want to do is espouse their right to bear arms. But at what point does someone’s right to bear arms supersede someone else’s right to life?


I mean, we certainly hear an awful lot from our politicians about the right to life when it comes to a woman’s ability to make decisions about her own body. After all, someone has to champion the cause of the “precious life” that woman is carrying don’t they. Well at least that is until that precious embryo comes out to be a little black or brown child, particularly if that little black or brown child is a boy… Amazing how abruptly the debate on the right to life changes when the weapon of choice gets shifted from abortion to handguns, shotguns and assault rifles.


Suddenly, these same politicians no longer feel the time is right to do something to preserve the sanctity of life by enacting common sense gun laws. But at what point does political affiliation cease to matter? At what point do we finally stop the madness? And at what point do we realize that you cannot put a price tag on a human life?


Oh wait, that’s right, you can put a price tag on a human life… because when you weigh the price of human life against the bottom-line profits of the gun manufacturers, the price of a life becomes statistically insignificant. How else can you account for the politicians and gun lobbyists’ willingness to discount the loss of life due to gun violence at a rate of over 100 people per day as a cost of doing business?


But the time for sitting by and allowing this unconscionable behavior to continue has got to end. It was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who said, “The time is always right to do what is right” and the right thing for us to do is increase the pressure on our elected officials to support the We the People Amendment and affirm that only human beings, not corporate entities, have Constitutional rights and that money is not speech and therefore can be regulated in political elections.


We are in the throes of political turmoil, the likes of which has not been seen, at least not in my lifetime. And we have a golden opportunity to make our voices heard by making our votes count, to hold elected officials accountable to the people once again and not to corporations.

The time has come for us to vote as if our very lives depend on it, because they do.


Thank you.

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