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Mississippi Chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action Respond After Jaylen Burns, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity President, was Shot and Killed at Jackson State University

October 17, 2023

JACKSON, Miss. — The Mississippi chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots network, released the following statements in response to Jaylen Burns, president of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, being shot and killed at Jackson State University, a historically Black university. With details still emerging, reports show that Jaylen Burns was shot and killed this week at the University Pointe Apartment Complex on Sunday night. 

This comes shortly after five people, four of them students, were shot and wounded at Morgan State University’s homecoming in Maryland, where the historically Black university has now been marred by gunfire three years in a row. 

“Make no mistake: Gun violence in America is entirely preventable. But despite my generation literally dying in our classrooms, homes, and communities, our politicians have chosen a path of inaction,” said Valencia Green, a volunteer leader with Jackson State University Students Demand Action. “We’re being forced to normalize learning in constant fear of gunfire ringing out in – and outside of – our classrooms, but the truth is, this isn’t normal. When shootings happen we need more than “thoughts and prayers,” we need action to keep us safe.” 

“Our hearts are with Jaylen’s family, friends, and community during this time. Gun violence is preventable and we all deserve to feel safe in our communities,” said Shirley Meeks, a volunteer with the Mississippi chapter of Moms Demand Action. “But when Mississippi lawmakers continually push a deadly agenda that allows ‘guns everywhere, for anyone, no questions asked’ – alongside hateful rhetoric and racist policies – gun violence that disproportionately affects the Black community is an inevitable and devastating conclusion.”

Black Americans are nearly three times more likely than white Americans to die by guns, and 12 times more likely to die by gun homicide. Black Americans are also nearly three times more likely to be shot and killed by police, than white Americans. Time and time again, Black people in America bear the weight of our nation’s gun violence crisis.

A new analysis from Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund shows that this month, the United States has surpassed more than 100 incidents of gun violence on school grounds in 2023. Since January, there have been 106 instances of gun violence on school grounds, in which 76 people have been shot and wounded and 31 others were shot and killed. 

Mississippi comes in at 50th for gun law strength in the United States, the weakest in the entire country. In an average year, 793 people are killed by guns in Mississippi, with an 85% increase from 2012 to 2021, compared to a 39% increase nationwide. Gun violence costs Mississippi around $9.9 billion each year. More information about gun violence in Mississippi is available here.
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