In the United States, 93 people die each day as a result of guns, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
A six-year-old from St. Louis, Missouri, says he's afraid that if something doesn't change, he will one day be one of those people.
On May 15, just before Jeffrey Laney went to sleep, his mom, Leanndra Cheatham, recorded him talking about his fears. His message left her in tears. Speaking to the camera, he said:
"Me and my momma, we live in St. Louis, and I'm coming to tell y'all why people need to stop killing each other around here because this is just making me feel bad.
I'm scared to die and I don't want nothing to happen to all my family."
According to People, a month earlier, on April 13, Cheatham's 17-year-old cousin, Taylor Simpson, was shot and killed by another teen. According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, witnesses described the incident as a drive-by shooting.
Simpson was a junior in high school.
The incident deeply affected young Laney. He said:
“This is real and this is really serious because I'm really scared to die and I'm really scared for my family to die. See my mama cousin...he got killed standing outside of school and this made my mama feel really bad. I feel bad too.”
Laney then pointed to God as a helper:
“I feel bad about people killing each other. God is going to help your brain, God going to make you safe. God can do as much as he can for you. God loves you with all of his heart, God died for you.”
He said point blank: “We need to stop this stuff.”
Cheatham shared her son's emotional plea on Facebook in hopes that it would wake people up. She said the “kids are tired,” and that she “can't fail” her own son.
Cheatham told People her son's concerns “hurt,” but that she was also very proud of Laney for being a voice.
Thousands of people have since listened to Laney's message. Many paid tribute to the loved ones they lost to gun violence:
The six-year-old's plea goes on for four minutes and 20 seconds. Towards the end, Laney makes a particularly poignant statement:
“God is my weapon...God is going to make sure I'm safe.”
Laney acknowledged that he's a little kid who shouldn't have to worry about this kind of thing.
He couldn't be more right.