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In the wake of mass shootings like the ones in Newtown, Connecticut and Aurora, Colorado, there has been an increasing debate about gun control in America.
While most of the debate has centered on spree shootings, Al Jazeera English takes a look at the problem of gangs and guns in America's inner cities in the third part of their three part series "Inside Story Americas: Guns In the United States."
Today's episode focuses on Baltimore, Maryland. The city, which was the backdrop for HBO's gritty series "The Wire" had 217 murders last year. 1 in 4 people live below the poverty line. Many people living in the inner city have turned to gangs and drug dealing as a means of survival, which means more gun violence, making it a dangerous place to live.
"Because you know it's a lot of wolves in this city. You refuse to be that one sheep that gets taken for everything," said former gang member, Shawn Hawkins. "You know in your heart you're a good guy and you don't intend on hurting anybody, but the next man may hurt you. You're gonna need a gun."
Shawn says getting your hands on a gun in Baltimore is very easy.
"It's like going to the store to buy a lollipop. If you got the money, you got a gun in this city," he says. "If you had to break it down 1/4 of it would be for drugs, 1/4 of it would be for gangs. 50 percent in general is just pure survival."
Shakiara Lester works for "Rewired for Change," a charity that helps people escape the cycle of gang violence, gun crimes and prison. She explains why many turn to those options to survive.
"A lot of people between the ages of 16 and 24, they gota take care of their entire house," she explains. "Their grandmother is an alcoholic, their mother don't come home, they don't know the father, but the mother got four kids. All y'all living in one house. You gotta take care of them. So now what's left for me to do that I'm 18-years old and my grandmother can't feed my four brothers and sisters? I have to go and do it. Nobody is talking about the reality of it, They're just saying that all the bad people should be in jail."
Handguns are the second leading cause of death for African Americans from 18 to 25-years old in the United States.
Why isn't there more attention being paid to gun homicides in urban areas? Is the answer more power for police? This documentary attempts to examine that issue. Watch it below