RuQuan Brown knows how it feels to lose a loved one to gun violence. In September 2017, Brown’s teammate and friend lost his flourishing life to gun violence. A year later his stepdad also succumbed to the same evil in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Those two tragedies were Brown’s wake up call. The high school senior with 24 college acceptances, including Ivy League institutions and full-ride scholarships, decided to fight the scourge.
He launched a merchandise business called Love1 in 2019 aimed at raising awareness of the devastation gun violence causes families, especially African American households.
The business donates 20 percent of its profits to a New Jersey-based organization called One Gun Gone, which buys guns from residents and modifies them to art projects.
“I want people to be inspired to turn their pain into power,” Brown told Because of Them We Can. “I wanted to beat gun violence to the punch so that our families don’t have to continuously fall victim to tragic losses.”
“We’re eliminating a small fragment of the problem in order to reduce the amount of our loved ones being taken from us,” the 17-year-old who garnered a 3.9 GPA at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School, one of DC’s leading public magnet high schools, said.
According to findings by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, the United States is said to have the 28th highest rate of deaths from gun violence globally – 4.43 deaths per 100,000 people in 2017.
Another study notes that the gun homicide rate in the United States is 25 times higher than other high-income countries and that the phenomenon is most prevalent in racially segregated neighborhoods with high rates of poverty with Black Americans representing the majority of gun homicide victims.
Black Americans are said to be 10 times more likely than white Americans to die by gun homicide.
Speaking to CNN, One Gun Gone’s project director said the partnership with Brown is “breaking the dark, destructive economic cycle of one gun which can be sold and resold again and again. We are replacing it with a positive creative economy of art making and community building using that one gun.”
“I’m beyond proud of my son,” Brown’s biological father, Rudolph Brown said. “RuQuan is the living answer to a father’s prayers. He proudly exemplifies what’s possible when you align faith, hard work, purpose, and passion.”