Educator Geoffrey Canada ’74 on Gun Control (CNN)

Last Friday, acclaimed education reformer Geoffrey Canada ’74, president and CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone, appeared on CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight to speak about the need for sensible gun-control in the United States.

In a New York Daily News op-ed piece on Sunday, Canada writes about the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, and the many children lost to gun violence in Harlem over his 30 year career there. “America is facing a war, and our children are the casualties,” Canada writes, and implores “our leaders to act with the courage of those brave teachers and the principal of Sandy Hook Elementary School who gave their lives to try to save their children, our children.”


  1. Dale Tomlinson says:

    Mr Canada is absolutely correct, as are the inferences of the CNN interviewer. There are true conservatives who are not radicals and not irresponsible (for those interested, see the following:,0,6774314.story). I would hope that more such people will emerge soon so that some effective action for sensible gun control — not just a toothless law — might finally be put on the books. However, given our politicians’ lack of intestinal fortitude and Americans’ apparent lack of long-term memory, I have serious doubts anything will change; but we can write letters, vote, and hope.

  2. I am a proud father, a happy husband, and responsible citizen of my community and country. I also happen to own several firearms. Not only do I own guns, but I actively train with firearms, and regularly carry guns because I believe I have a responsibility to not only protect myself and my family, but also to make sure I come home to them every day. Not only do I train with guns, but I train with other weapons in armed and unarmed martial arts; I also instruct other individuals to defend themselves with and without weapons, including firearms. I have paid tens of thousands of dollars, and spent thousands of hours, learning from professionals, training to be an effective defender of my right to pursue life and liberty as a free citizen of these United States of America. I am not in law enforcement and never joined the military, though I respect and appreciate the sacrifices others make to help our country be safe and protected. I have been training in the fighting arts for over three decades. I do this because I (usually) really enjoy the training, and because it resonates with my beliefs that we are all individually responsible for our own safety and well-being.

    Firearms are emergency tools designed to be employed in extremely high stress, life-or-death circumstances, that call for robust and reliable performance. Just like there are sport cars and performance cars that require very specific environments to perform in (you do not drive an F1 race car down a dirt road going 120 mph), there are also many sporting firearms that are not designed for protecting human life. This is why all of my guns except a limited few are all high-reliability, robust civilian versions of military guns. I can use them for sporting purposes, but this is not their immediate design. They are lethal force-multipliers that by definition are extremely dangerous, and are only effective when they are accessible and usable. A perfectly safe gun is useless in an emergency. Because I can not see into the future and accurately forecast when I may be assaulted, I carry a gun most everywhere I go.

    Listening to the discussion above, all I hear are accusations and calls for “reasonable” feel-good legislation that not only will have zero positive effect on acts of mass-murder and violence, but will actually offer more opportunities for tragedy to occur again and again. By forcibly increasing the number of “criminal entitlement zones,” otherwise known as “gun-free zones,” where only the law-abiding will be unarmed and unable to protect themselves and loved ones. All because ignorant citizens want to buy into the anti-gun lobby promotion of ineffective laws by promising that they and their children are safe again, now that the irresponsible (read: law-abiding) gun owners have been restrained with effective (read: unconstitutional) gun-control laws. Criminals do not comply with gun control laws, only law-abiding citizens, who are then made un-armed victims by these same laws.

    Then another senseless tragedy will occur, because you can’t legislate away evil, nor the experiences that can trigger emotionally ill or extremely fragile individuals to break down and commit horrific crimes. Following this, more emotional pleas to further legislate away our freedoms and personal security. Every law will have the same emotional argument of being needed to “protect our kids”. And then always the excuses for failure echo with the same phrase, “if only we could have gone a little farther, then this would have been prevented.” Then further feel-good legislation taking place right after another tragedy, and further punishment of law-abiding citizens who are only trying to keep their own loved ones safe.

    I am not asking for freedoms to act recklessly nor for any “extra” freedoms that I am not already endowed with as a US citizen. I am only asking you to recognize what the Constitution guarantees, and don’t try to push legislation that will violate it. And if you do not know the Constitution well enough to recognize what it says, please read it, and be critical enough to recognize what it is saying, and why. Do not insult yourself by using spurious claims that the writers couldn’t have forecast the advancement in firearms technology, nor that they were only addressing government-controlled military, therefor it’s relevance towards the individual are null and void. These men had seen significant military advancement with their own eyes, were highly educated, and knew the historical progress in individual weapons. Of course they knew that weapons would continue to become more effective, powerful, and efficient in the decades and generations to come. The facts are out there, available to anyone who is able to open their eyes and be a critical thinker. Something I would have expected from a Bowdoin graduate.

    Please be aware, if nothing else resonates with you, that eventually, we who are well-armed, well-trained, and motivated to protect ourselves, our families, and communities, will say enough is enough, we will bend no more. Our constitution was written to protect our liberties, and if all of the checks and balances created by the founders of our country are upended and overcome, and if all other methods fail, it provided for one last option to allow citizens the ability to restore usurped liberties and individual freedom. Do not discount my commitment to protecting and preserving your freedoms, or mine. I will not allow myself to live in a country that has been turned into a prison; although you and others may choose this existence for yourselves, do not try to force me to kneel down and accept your chains of bondage, all for the promise of institutionalized “safety”. The discomfort and anger some people feel in knowing that men and women of purpose, strength of character, and ability, are well armed and trained in our communities only highlights the ignorance, fear, and oftentimes ill-masked hatred I have to deal with every day. I am willing to continue facing this bigotry with an open heart and arms, but I will not tolerate anyone trying to take away my freedoms simply because they are too close-minded to understand they are espousing hatred and fear based on ignorance. Those that underestimate my commitment to be free, and willingness to hold others accountable for their actions, will be sorely tested when words have lost all meaning and ability to enact healthy change. This is my line in the sand; please don’t allow fear and intolerance to make you push me over it, because there will be no return.

  3. Hubert S. Shaw, Jr. says:

    I watched Mr. Canada on the Piers Morgan show on CNN and I read his op-ed piece.

    Thank you Mr. Canada for stepping forth to join Mayor Bloomberg in the call for weapon bans and to counter the proposal by the NRA leadership to place armed law enforcement officers in every school in our Country. My 28 years of military experience and two combat commands as an Army Infantry officer cause me to believe absolutely that the AR-15 and AK-47 are weapons of war designed to inflict devastating wounds and death and that there is no valid reason or purpose to openly market, possess, or use these high rate of fire assault weapons in America. I also find it essential that high rate of fire hand guns or weapons specifically designed and issued to Federal and state law enforcers must be controlled. We must not allow our law enforcers to be “outgunned” and our fire and rescue personnel to be gunned down while responding to our citizens’ emergencies.

    Tough bans on opens sales and possession of assault rifles and high rate of fire handguns will not prevent all future mass violence events. However, such laws, when enacted and enforced to the full extent, will certainly make it more difficult for criminals, the mentally disturbed, and young men and women seeking revenge, notoriety, or initiation into gangs to obtain assault weapons with which to perpetrate their crimes against innocent and unsuspecting Americans.

    Finally, Mr. Canada is absolutely correct that the NRA has “bullied” Americans into believing that assault weapon bans are a constitutional issue. The NRA position that “only a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun” would lead to America becoming an armed camp and smacks of vigilante-ism. It also leads to the proposition that we should put armed law enforcers and armed Americans, and maybe even armed State Militia or National Guard personnel, in every high threat area—at every school, at malls, at athletic events, and at houses of worship at national conventions. Such a position and unwillingness to discuss any other possible remedy is “irresponsible” [Mr. Canada’s word] and is, in my opinion, solely a subterfuge to raise the gun ban issue to an emotional level which overshadows the true imperative in this debate–the moral issue of innocent and unsuspecting Americans being killed and maimed by other Americans.

    Mr. Obama, Mr. Canada, and Mayor Bloomberg please continue to fight fiercely to bring about change in our Country’s gun laws. You are not alone and cannot let Newtown, Virginia Tech, Columbine, Webster, and host of other senseless events resulting in the loss of over 119,079 of our youth, as well as countless maimed, go unrecognized as a “War” now confronting America.

    Making Americans armed soldiers in this war is not the answer–responsible effective, and enforced gun control is the only solution. Hopefully, the President, educators, politicians and every day main street Americans will finally come together to take the actions necessary to protect all Americans. So, like Mr. Tomlinson [comment #1], I urge everyone who is fed up with inaction at the National level to now write, vote, hope and pray for a solution to this national disgrace.
    Hugh Shaw ’65

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