Gun control debate ignores black lives

4/6/2018, 12:14 p.m.
Students from across the country walked out of class on March 14 at 10 a.m. to protest gun violence and …

Glenn Ellis

Students from across the country walked out of class on March 14 at 10 a.m. to protest gun violence and demand new legislation. The students left classes for 17 minutes to commemorate the 17 lives lost in the Parkland, Fla., high school shooting. Some even left for 18 minutes to acknowledge a young black girl who was killed in an accidental shooting in Birmingham, Ala.

There are other gun deaths that were not included in this social action — young black males and homicide. In fact, the American gun debate rarely takes into account the number of black youths who are murdered every day.

Deaths of black men in the inner cities don’t make the headlines. The country doesn’t come to a dead halt, wailing at the murder of innocents, demanding an end to gun violence. The National Rifle Association won’t appear on TV to suggest putting armed guards in inner city schools. There is no public outcry.

The astonishing number of black men killing other black men is a true gun crisis across our country. Two of every five deaths for young black men are caused by homicide. That’s twice the rate of death for Hispanic males and 15 times the rate of white male homicides.

One report notes that gun violence is not only the second leading cause of death for American children, behind car accidents, but the leading cause of death for African-American children. Suicides by gunfire, on the other hand, made up the majority of gun deaths among white youths, accounting for an average of 644 every year.

Black children and teens are twice as likely to be killed by guns as by cars, the report notes, while white children and teens are nearly three times more likely to die in car accidents than from gun violence.

Black teenage males are especially at risk.

As of 2010, 45 percent of child gun deaths in the United States and 46 percent of gun injuries were among black children and teens, although black kids made up only 15 percent of all children and teens in the country.

In their “Protect Children, Not Guns” report, the Children’s Defense Fund highlighted national and state data on gun violence and how it affects children and teens in America. According to the report, the children and teens killed by guns in 2008 and 2009 would fill more than 229 classroom of 25 students each.

Americans are 10 times more likely to be killed by guns than people in other developed countries, a new study published in The American Journal of Medicine found.

Even though it has half the population of the other 22 nations combined, the United States accounted for 82 percent of all gun deaths.

There are no two ways about it: The United States is just a violent country, obsessed with guns.

Indeed, the endemic firearm violence in this country represents a substantial, long-term cumulative health burden. If present trends continue, Americans can expect to lose 336,778 lives to guns between 2011 and 2020, according to calculations.

No gun law is going to change anything at this point. We make it about the guns and we’re not worried about our kids. People should be focusing on why gun violence exists and trying to prevent it from occurring.

By failing to talk about the majority of gun murder victims — young, black men — politicians and advocates are missing the chance to save lives. The sad truth that is there is no political will in the country to address inner city violence.