Harry Styles' Residency at Madison Square Garden partnered with Everytown. Gabriella Leiba

Walking into Madison Square Garden was supposed to mean one thing for me; Harry Styles’ residency in New York. But what I did not expect when walking into the world’s most famous arena, was to see a sign saying “TOGETHER WE CAN END GUN VIOLENCE”.

Seeing an artist that I love use his platform to advocate around a public health crisis that affects everyone is a memory that I will never lose. During the 2023 North American leg of his “Love on Tour,” Styles partnered with Everytown for Gun Safety.

Everytown is a non-profit organization that supports survivors of gun violence, champions safety reforms, and spreads awareness of the tragedies that affect everyone, in every town. On top of that, they share important information, including the statistics on gun-related deaths, injuries, and the costs these have to each state. 

The state of Connecticut has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation. But some communities and populations in this state are impacted by gun violence far more than others because of racial disparities in gun violence. According to statistics from Everytown, across the United States, Black people are 12 times more likely to die by gun homicide compared to white people. But here in Connecticut, Black people are 27 times more likely than White people to die from gun homicide.

That rate puts Connecticut among the top four states in the nation in terms of racial disparities in gun violence. Only Illinois, New Jersey, and Wisconsin have a wider gap between Black and white residents in gun homicide. 

Gun violence costs Connecticut $2.6 billion dollars each year, but if you dissect where the violence is affecting the communities, there needs to be more focus on marginalized communities that have higher racial disparities in gun violence deaths such as New Haven County and Hartford County.

Gabriella Leiba

State Sen. Herron Gaston and state Rep. Fred Gee are currently sponsoring a bill in the legislature, Raised S.B. No. 1162, discussing community roundtables and funding policing programs to combat gun violence. Sen. Gaston has said, “Working together collaboratively with our law enforcement and sharing different policies allows for dedicated members of our community to produce new and innovative strategies to put an end to gun violence”.

This can and should be done in the areas most affected by gun violence as well. Through this bill, it is expected that law enforcement agencies in every town would have meetings with representatives from different agencies and organizations to examine data and create strategies to repress gun violence. If this bill gets passed, it will help protect the lives of all people, and try to diminish the disparity in gun violence deaths between Black and white communities. 

But this goes far beyond statistics. Families are being broken due to gun violence. Within three years, Laquivia Jones, a Black mother living in New Haven, lost both her sons due to gun violence. She has had to experience tremendous heartbreak, not only once, but twice. Jones has said, “When you pull the trigger, you don’t pull it on a target. You pull it on a community. You pull it on anyone who loves that person.” Some families have the privilege of not having to ever experience that. 

I went to a Harry Styles concert just to have a fun time with my friends, but walked out feeling inspired to create change around the issue of gun violence. As citizens of the United States and residents of Connecticut, we need to come together to end this problem.

To start, you can join the movement at Everytown to combat gun violence.

Gabriella Leiba is a Senior at Sacred Heart University, majoring in Health Science with a public health concentration.