by Maayan Schechter – Campus Voice Editor – firstname.lastname@example.org
People of color experience a higher percentage of gun deaths within their communities, yet their plight has been overlooked during the current gun control conversation.
The right to bear arms as outlined in the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is an important, although controversial, part of the laws upon which this country was founded. There is great debate surrounding the meaning of the phrase “a well-regulated militia” within the Amendment, as to whether it means citizens at large would be able to protect themselves from tyranny, army or police force.
Blacks make up around 13 percent of the U.S. population, yet in 2009 experienced the greatest number of deaths, and a majority were homicides by guns. The most recent data coming out of Chicago shows the reality guns play in inner cities. In the last two years, 319 students were shot, and 24 of them killed. African-Americans are only 33 percent of Chicago’s population, but account for 70 percent of murder victims.
According to The Future of Children, a site designated to provide research and analysis helping to promote policies and programs for children, black males are killed at rates 2.4 times higher than Hispanic males, and 15.3 times as high as white males. Sixty-seven percent of murder and manslaughter victims are black, while Hispanics make up 28.1 percent.
Why does it take a mass shooting in an elementary school to have the much needed conversation about guns?
Typically the conversation about gun control grows louder when there is a mass killing of primarily, but not all, white schoolchildren, such as in Connecticut or a movie theater in Colorado. Yet on a daily basis, communities of color in some of the nation’s largest cities experience a rise in individual killings which receive less attention. Perhaps the reason lies within the number killed at one time or daily, and because the killings happen in neighborhoods where it is not so uncommon.
Gun control must not just be recognized when a mass killing occurs in schools or theaters, but when individual killings are on the rise as well.
The public must demand a reasonable type of gun control. In a country that experiences the highest number of murder by firearms and the greatest number of incarcerations having to do with owning or shooting a firearm illegally, politicians can no longer ignore the cry for a stop to senseless murder, whether or not in schools or in neighborhoods. Congress must stop hiding behind powerful gun lobbies and assist the president and vice president in putting together legislation that will decrease the number of firearm murders and homicides. More productive attention can be spent on family programs, beneficial support for youths in and out of prison and on public education.
We must not ignore race in the context of gun control, but better yet, we should not let this conversation die out either.