By most estimates there are close to 12,000 gun murders each year, and roughly 65,000 gun shot injuries.
Not all of those homicides and injuries are caused by illegal guns.
But you want to hear the scary part? The vast majority are in fact caused by illegal firearms. There is a vast criminal network that allows criminals, minors, and other people with no business owning a firearm, the ability to get their hands on a one.
Detroit alone has over 300 murders a year, and most of those are caused by a gun. Homicide is the second leading cause of death for 15-24 year olds, and the number one cause of death for African Americans of the same age.
Raise the Caliber
When we heard about Raise the Caliber, it was hard not to be stoked. They are a group of highly motivated, and intriguing individuals who have come together to work towards ending illegal gun violence in America. Sounds pretty good right? Most of us are not very far removed from someone who has been a victim of gun violence, and if not, its a cause most people are willing to get behind once it does effect them.
In a nut shell, or in a shell casing, Raise the Caliber is a national advocacy campaign founded by Jewelry for a Cause President, Jessica Mindich. The initiative moves from city to city following a 2 story high sculpture made from parts of illegal weapons, or shreds, and its dedicated to the victims of illegal gun violence. Raise the Caliber has now found a new home here in Detroit (they hope to unveil the statue in the fall).
Mindich started Jewelry For a Cause in 2008 to create cool, creative, and relatively inexpensive pieces of jewelry, which could be sold to raise money for various non-profits, schools or charity organizations. She grew up in environment that emphasized the importance of philanthropy.
She has partnered here locally with Joseph Jeup, PWRDetroit and DetroitWick to bring the Caliber Collection here to the D. Both of which will have their own Caliber line. On Wednesday May 20th you are invited to Raise the Caliber here in metro Detroit. At 4:00 p.m. at Complex in Birmingham, there will be a party introducing the local team.
We had a chance to talk to Mindich by phone from the east coast the other day and discuss her efforts there, her upcoming efforts here, and some of the points in between.
“I was raised in a family that embodied the spirit that everyone had a duty to do what they could to help repair the world. I had great role models, no video games, and parents who convinced me that I had the power to make a difference. I am a lawyer by training and I LOVED practicing law. The law left me because we moved to a state where I wasn’t admitted to practice and I was having my second child. When I tried to go back, 4 years later, I felt out of touch and irrelevant and intimidated by a profession that had once empowered me. I was looking to retrieve that feeling and give back,” Mindich said.
I was curious what she thought were the best ways to get guns off the streets, and what are some of the other efforts to do so?
“Gun buy back and amnesty programs are the ONLY way to get rid of an illegal or unwanted gun with amnesty in this country. It is important to note that they are an important part of a comprehensive public safety effort. They are not an independent solution. Amazingly, It is easier to give up a baby in this country, that is crazy. Through buy backs we give individuals a chance to raise the caliber of their lives and futures,” she mentioned.
Through Raise the Caliber they have privately financed two complete buybacks in Newark, where everything started. They were able to buy back 395 guns. The sales from the Caliber Collection has partly paid for buy backs in the other partner cities. She guesses they have been responsible for taking over 1000 illegal and unwanted guns off the streets.
In addition to Jewelry for a Cause’s efforts to fund gun buy backs, The Caliber Foundation is working on developing a curriculum for ages 10-17 to introduce into the public school systems in their partner cities and after school programs to tell the story from “behind the gun”…. The intense regret felt by those who have perpetrated a variety of crimes using illegal guns and as a result lost their futures and their freedom.
“This is as important in some communities as alcohol and drug prevention curriculum,” She added.
Mindich started here in Detroit a year ago, and has formed a tight relationship with Police Chief James Craig, and Detroit’s Rock Ventures. Over the past year they have been diagnosing how Raise the Caliber can be effective in Detroit.
Since they got their start here, they have taken approximately 50 guns and more than 20 pounds of shell casings into the jewelry and the collaborative collections that make up the Detroit Caliber Collection.
Since most of this was new to me I wanted to know how it all came about in Detroit, and what were some of her thoughts on Detroit, and why this is an important partner city for Caliber?
“Detroit is innovative and eager to do anything and everything they can to raise the caliber of their city. That is who Chief Craig is, who Rock Ventures is and who the wide variety of amazing Detroit based entrepreneurs we have partnered with to add to our power to make a difference. From my first interaction with Detroit I have been in love. The people of this great city are kind, generous, thoughtful, creative, super cool and amazingly open minded. The pride they have in being from the “D” is truly awesome,” Mindich said.
She was very excited about this new chapter, and admitted that she wished she could claim roots here in Detroit. Her partners Joseph Jeup, PWRDetroit, and DetroitWick however, can all proudly claim the D as their own.
Joseph Jeup is one of the foremost furniture designers in the world and manufactures his pieces in Grand Rapids. He designed his first ever lighting collection, with each style being named after a different street in Detroit. Each piece also has a unique serial number from a gun, and a shell casing embedded in the lamps, both of which come from Detroit.
PWR comes from a trio of local high school kids. They created a line of bracelets that embody the idea that there is someone in every corner of the planet that calls Detroit home, knows someone who does, or who is hopeful for the city. They give 10% of every sale to Make-A-Wish. They encourage everyone to wear the world, and change a life. They are pumped to be partnered with Caliber.
“Our PWR bracelets remind us that we are all connected and carry the world with us,” says the team at PWRDetroit, “Now, we are excited about our collaboration with Caliber Detroit, as we continue to change the way people see our city. These bracelets represent that change in thinking from one of despair and violence to one of beauty and hope.”
Detroit Wick is amazing. Its the sort of the thing you need to see to believe, and we highly encourage it. Their focus is based on creatively joining company and customer through the use of the 5 senses. Their work is impressive.
“Being a part of a program that’s helping take illegal guns off the streets and reinventing something that was once used to destroy… now a timeless pieces of art. It’s something special to be able to contribute in that way,” Doug Schwartz, founder of Detroit Wick said.
Wednesday’s event is at Complex, located at 168 West Maple road, and begins at 4:00 p.m. Its a chance to get together with other socially minded people and have a good time.
Spoiler, Its sponsored by El Guapo and Hell Yeah Detroit!
Please send an email RSVP by May 18th to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Detroit Caliber Collection can be found at Complex, The DIA, The Detroit Shoppe, Willys and AK RIKKS.
All your social media needs:
“we have assembled an incredible team of talent and human beings who are doing their part to end this senseless epidemic. I am so proud to introduce them all to you,” Jessica Mindich.