The United States is writhing under the scourge of violence. I would mention the latest mass murder but fear that by the time I finished writing this post another one will have already happened.
Unfortunately, this is not my first post condemning what seems to be endemic in American society. In fact, I tire of writing about it — over and over again. And, judging from the number of people who actually read my posts, no one seems to be taking notice, anyway.
Still, silence will not bring us to a possible understanding as to why this near orgy of violence is plaguing ALL Americans.
One of the most important things to consider is that all gun violence is not the same. In fact, the only common denominator is the gun itself. Gun violence seems to be in response to a number of motivating factors including: socio-economic, ideology, and mental health.
First, let’s review the socio-economic factors that impact guns and violence. These are statistics from The Alliance for Gun Safety. They clearly indicate that communities of color (i.e. predominantly black) suffer disproportionately from gun violence *:
- Each day on average, 30 Black Americans are killed by guns and more than 110 experience non-fatal injuries.
- Black Americans experience 10 times the gun homicides of white Americans.
- Black Americans are nearly three times more likely to be shot and killed by police as white Americans.
- Black Americans experience 18 times the gun assault injuries of white Americans.
- 68 percent of Black Americans or someone they care for has experienced gun violence.
What’s important to remember here, and is accurately pointed out in the website, the reasons for these frightening numbers have nothing to do with their race and everything to do with racism and centuries of neglect, oppression, and disenfranchisement. Some will say, “come on now, this is the 21st Century. That’s a copout”. But they will have entirely missed the point. As long as racism in this Country continues to prevent communities of color from the real opportunities afforded more white, and therefore affluent communities, the violence will continue.
The type of sensational gun violence, however, that grabs most of the headlines are usually committed by young, angry, disaffected white men. A Mother Jones article and supported by PolitiFact claim that 63% of all mass murderers are white men. + Some of these follow a hate filled, racist ideology that drives their heinous acts. The recent attack on a supermarket in Buffalo, NY is the latest example of this type of killer, i.e. an angry white man out to kill as many blacks as he could.
Others are clearly disturbed in various ways and use their pent up anger at the world to inflict as much damage on it as possible. In fact, they choose targets that will cause as much pain to the community at large as possible. When studying their backgrounds, in hindsight, many warning signs as to their decaying mental health are clearly missed. The latest culprit in the Highland Park, Il massacre, is just the most recent example. He seemed to hate himself and, so, took that hate out on everyone else around him.
Very different scenarios, yes. But, as I wrote previously, there is a common denominator: GUNS
In the case of minority communities the overwhelming majority of the guns used in the commitment of crimes are obtained illegally. Even in states with strict gun laws, weapons can be easily purchased in other states with much more lax laws and then brought back to their communities.
However, as in the case with most white, mass murderers their guns were obtained legally. Despite so-called Red Flag Laws designed to prevent those considered inappropriate from gun ownership, these young men have managed to acquire virtual arsenals anyway.
Despite finger pointing at various, minor contributing factors, this Country seems incapable — or unwilling — to look the culprit right in the face, i.e. access to weapons, especially powerful ones, is ENTIRELY too easy. Under the guise of freedom we prioritize the will of the minority over the pain of the majority. Innocent people, children, are dying in record numbers every day. And, still, we seem paralyzed at taking even the most basic steps to stem the flow of weapons that have been proven to work.
We have met the enemy, and they are us . . .