Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Thursday, October 27, 2016

Resignation To Gun Violence Will Not Stop The Killing

Resignation To Gun Violence Will Not Stop The Killing

For the Rev. Al Sharpton, well-known civil rights activist and television personality, the moment of personal reckoning about the apocalyptic toll of gun violence came in August of last year, as he walked into a Harlem church to deliver the eulogy for a dead 4-year-old. Before that, like so many other black activists and ordinary voters, he had become inured to the fratricidal violence that tears apart families and wrecks whole neighborhoods.

“I walked in and saw this miniature casket, and it shook me. And I thought, ‘How come we’re not doing more about this?'” Sharpton told me.

That’s the salient question, isn’t it? And it’s especially pertinent for the legions of black preachers, activists and politicians who claim their priority is improving the lives of black Americans. If there is a “black agenda,” shouldn’t reducing black-on-black gun violence lead the list? Shouldn’t this be the leading crusade for the NAACP, the Urban League, the SCLC?

A young black man dies from gunfire every few hours, usually at the hands of another young black man, according to federal statistics. Gun violence is the leading cause of death for black men younger than 35, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Try to imagine, if you can, the outcry from black America if self-appointed neighborhood watch vigilantes killed a young black man every few hours. Yet the firearms-driven death rate among black men — a decades-long holocaust — gets but sporadic notice. Will that change with President Obama’s announcement of a new push for gun-safety measures? Will well-known civil rights groups publicly join the charge?

Sharpton — with whom I caught up just after he’d left the White House for the announcement — speculates that too many of those on the front lines of civil rights activism have become desensitized to firearms deaths. “My fear is that we’ve seen so much gun violence that we’ve become numb to it. All of us have dropped the ball in terms of elevating this issue to the crisis that it is,” he said.

That failure may also stem, at least partly, from embarrassment, said U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.

“I think African-Americans are not happy about bringing attention to perhaps the greatest deficit in our urban core, and that’s the disrespect for human life. (Acknowledging it) aids and abets those who … hate us,” Cleaver said.

  • Any laws they pass at the federal level will be negated by the actions of the gun nut states remember that please.

    And remember that the objective is to limit the number of firearms that get into the hands of crazies & criminals NOT to limit the amount of carnage one can produce before reloading.

    These ‘laws’ & executive orders are just for show.

    There is a solution, think Obama care.

  • sigrid28

    When I taught in inner-city high schools in Chicago thirty years ago, I had Al Sharpton moment of pain and recognition sweep over me several times. Though I am white, in one school, where I taught for over two years, I was privileged to get to know several families quite well, as siblings were in my English classes and their parents would come to parent-teacher conferences.

    When the youngest daughter one mother began to fall behind in her classes, she told me she was afraid walking to school from home. This single mother fixed the problem by taking her high school aged children to school each day. Under her circumstances, it was a heroic effort on the part of this mother, whose oldest daughter had started out the year badly, by getting into a knife fight with another girl. This daughter, already the mother of an eighteen-month-old, was very bright; her mom and I were able to get her to settle down, so she could excel at school.

    • amarquez647

      I taught CADD in a privet school. On two occasions I was threaten by a student. They were thrown out of the school, and they lost their tuition.

    • neeceoooo

      I do admire you for your words. You are an inspiration to many students across the country.

    • DEFENDER88

      You have much more experience in the Black community and with school age people than me so I am wondering what you think about my thoughts below.

      I come from an all white county in E Tn but have interacted with Black Folks since then but not to your extent.
      My experience has been that most Black Folks are basically good people and want the same things we do – Life, Liberty, Pursuit of Happiness, right to make a descent living, etc. But that is one area where they have been disadvantaged (right to make a descent living) ie discrimination. So they turn to drugs since they can actually make money there much easier than they can get a good job. And that leads to the majority of gun crime in the cities. Dont we all know that? Drugs are root cause of most gun crime in the cities?

      I am 65 yr old so I have been around long enough to have seen what has not changed and what has changed in this country.

      Changes like:
      Like mass murders in schools.
      And like everyday murders in the ghettos, mostly low income black areas of town, but white also.
      Where, by the way, some 75% of gun crime in this country is done.

      When I was in high school ’61-’65, a good 1/2 of the pick-up trucks in the school parking lot had rifles in a rack in the back window.
      No one ever thought anything about it. No one ever got shot. You could have walked down the hall with a rifle and no one would have been concerned. Curious maybe but not worried. Some schools who had shooting teams brought them into schools, but again, no one ever got shot or even concerned.

      Proportionately I believe there were as many guns available then as now.

      So I asked myself, what has changed from then to now?

      And what are the main problem areas and what are the causes.

      I see 2 main problem areas.

      1) Mass murders in schools(ie Gun Free Zones)

      2) Everyday killings in the “Hood” ie on the streets

      1) Mass murders in schools
      Most of the mass murders in schools and other places are being done by young white men in their early 20’s.
      And that started, what 10, 15 yr ago?

      Another common link I just became aware of was prescribed anti-depressent drugs.
      Which back in ’61-’65 was pretty much unheard of.
      If you got out of line you got your ass busted. You did not get drugged unless you went to an institution where they could control you.
      Of course now that is child abuse.
      Think I could argue putting them on drugs is also an abuse and apparently a danger to society.

      I understand most of the killers now days are on some drug when they start the killing – Prozac(Virginia Tech), Effexer(Columbine), Zoloft, Ritalin, Livox, etc.
      Problem is they are not now in institutions, they are now out there among us, at home with their parents under no “real” control.

      This is not an argument for putting kids in institutions but just recognizing the new problem ie Kids(Young White Men) on Drugs killing people.

      From what I am hearing and seeing there seems to be an undeniable common link here.
      As we say in math – A very high, positive correlation.

      2)Every day killings in the “Hood”
      Which is about 75% or so of gun crime in the US.
      As for the every day killings in the Ghettos – Again Drugs but of a different form.
      Seems most of the now illegal drugs used to be legal in this country.
      Virtually all drugs were legal here at one time. Even hard drugs like cocaine and heroin and most others.
      How and why did that happen? Not sure how, but It did.
      But people who abused them did not go out and kill school kids or shoot up theaters.
      But we did not have designer drugs like Prozac(Virginia Tech), Effexer(Columbine), Zoloft, Ritalin, Livox, etc.

      Also, seems to me many young Black folks, being dis-advantaged from a jobs stand-point and wanting to live the “dream”, like we all do, found it much easier to turn to the drug trade than to find honest work because of discrimination, etc. I hear many especially in the bigger cities find it much harder to go straight then to deal drugs.
      And the drug trade leads to guns. Not the other way around.
      ie The actual causal effect is the drug trade not the guns.

      I also cite here the murders in Mexico, again- because of the drug trade.
      The worse the drug Trade the more the guns and killings.
      Not the other way around – Guns dont lead to drugs. But drugs DO lead to guns and killing.

      My point is:
      The drugs are the “Root” problem.
      Not the guns.

      My other thought here is – If we legalized all drugs (like it used to be) – the killings would be reduced drastically.
      We could empty 3/4 of the prisons and jails. Do away with 1/2 the police. Tax them(drugs) like liquor and balance the budget.

      But stop wholesale drugging of kids.
      Or “ban” “that”.

      So –
      Legalize – the old drugs that did not produce violent behaviors – Weed, Cocaine, Heroin, ….
      Ban – New designer drugs (The Root cause of these murders) that Do propagate Violent behaviors.

      3) Banning guns
      Seems there are already so many out there, especially in the inner cities that a ban will have little effect there for a long long time, if ever.
      It has not worked that well in Chicago, for example, ie the Gun Crime capital of the country.
      And it has not worked in Mexico. Again – “Drug” Cartels.

      In short, I just dont think a ban on guns will help that much with the killings going on at schools.
      We should concentrate on things that “can” have an “immediate effect” like increased security.

      So – from all the above – I dont think that guns is the “Root” problem/s.

      That IS the objective is it not? Stopping the killing. And soon.

      4) Gun Control
      There are some things that should be done to keep them out of the hands of the bad guys and crazies but not deny legal owners the right to self defense.

      I want to see the killings stop, as much if not more than everyone else. But think we should concentrate or efforts on fixing the “root” problems ie in large part – Drugs. And I would add a phyc test for gun permitting.

      Regarding Bans
      Seems the ban on drugs has just lead to more killing.
      I expect a ban on guns will not do much better since they are not the “Root Driver” of the killings and there are just too many out there already. The horse is already out of the barn on this. It may help after 20yrs or more but not right now and maybe never considering all the various nefarious means they are imported.

      • sigrid28

        Defender88, it is refreshing to read such a thoughtful discourse, especially because you begin by explaining your relation to black urban communities that are the subject of Cynthia Tucker’s article. Like me, you will never be able to fully explain their troubles or solve their problems, but your willingness to contemplate a way to end the misery in these communities is a good start. My point is that these minority communities where crime is prevalent need whatever supports can aid them in THEIR effort to bring about change from within.

        I would like to see the social institutions, especially schools, within these communities do a better job. A WPA type approach to inner city education, training and multiplying personnel in schools and rebuilding the many that are unworkable would be a good start. Education reform and expansion in the inner city would also provide badly needed jobs.

        Another way to support change would be to provide jobs at a living (rather than a minimum) wage. Walmart actually trains its underpaid and underinsured workers to apply for food stamps and other programs rather than paying them a living wage and providing decent benefits. Walmart’s share in the firearms and ammo market is sizable. Many impoverished whites in Red states are in the same boat when it comes to Walmart and other employers who have been making record income during the last four years but not passing profits along to the workers who need them.

  • bpai99

    We need to accept the fact that the occasional slaughter of innocents is the price we pay so that gun manufacturers can continue to reap healthy profits.

    • neeceoooo

      But why should we accept the fact, if there is something we can do about it, we should.

  • idamag

    This is a sad situation. If we spent as much time on anger, mental illness, and fear research as we did on AIDS maybe we could find solutions.

    Once upon a time the NRA represented the rights of hunters, marksmen, and gun collectors. It has for many years however, represented the 12 billion dollar a year firearms industry. The NRA has no interest whatsoever in the Second Amendment, or in protecting the rights of anyone whose financial interests they do not represent. It is all a big, successfully executed myth. I served in the military, and had to qualify with the AR15. At the firing range, I watched a young officer adjust the firing mechanism, using only a small phillips head screwdriver, converting the weapon’s rate of fire from semi-automatic to fully automatic. It took him less than a minute. The Bushmaster .223 has the same firing mechanism. The paranoia that seems to afflict a small but noisy fraction of the American population, that the government is coming to take away your guns, to take away your rights, is troubling, and has led to catastrophic encounters between law enforcement and psychpathic splinter groups like the Branch Davidians, and many others. It’s time for responsible gun owners, and most are, to hold the NRA, and the army of paranoids that hides under its protective umbrella, accountable for their actions. Assault weapons must be restricted to the use of our military. Our children are dying, Enough.

    • sigrid28

      This is such a wise, articulate, and sensible comment. It suggests that the same kind of remedy can come about among gun owners as Cynthia Tucker suggests must come about within urban areas endangered by gun violence: transformative change from within, strengthened by support from without.

    • jstsyn

      Shall we ban the small phillips head screw driver too?

    • Automatics are illeagal in the US!

  • Eleanore Whitaker

    Less, not more guns, are the answer. We have the right not to have to see guns everywhere in our daily lives. Millions of guns in the hands of a tiny minority of people who refuse to accept that their guns appear offensive to others is a danger to our society.

  • stcroixcarp

    To all gun owners: Only you can prevent gun violence.

  • montanabill

    Cynthia, your post contains a lot of wise thought. However, it would have been far more effective if you had simply addressed the culture within the black community and left out the gratuitous attacks on ‘Ultraconservatives’, which you mischaracterized. It diluted your otherwise fine piece. Many readers of National Memo will see only that part and immediately blame ‘Ultraconservatives’ for the violence instead of addressing the culture.

  • onedonewong

    Once a decade the colored community wakes up from blaming whitey for all their problems and decide that guns and illegitimate kids are problems that should be addressed. they get some govt grants and the $$ is pissed away.
    Bottom line you can take the Africans out of Africa but you can never take the savage out of the Africans. I’m sure Sharpton will eventually blame whitey for the lack on black shootings

  • bchrista

    What people fail to realize is tha their is too much profit in selling guns their are thousands of people riding around with their car trunks loaded with guns we used to call them Saturday Night special, cheap guns that might blow up in your hands the first time you fired them the quality has improved but most are not the type you buy at gun shops or at gun attractions but that goes back to a discussion held here on the National Memo about Drugs, these younger blacks are able to afford paying a high price for guns because they are making a lot of money selling Crack Cocaine the Black leaders talk about stopping the killing blacks well the first thing they have to wipe the scourge of crack cocaine from their neighbor hoods they know who is selling crack they know who is buying it so eradicate the source make it so the person that introduces crack into their hoods will wish they were dead before they sold another rock, catch them and put a good ass whipping on them I mean break their legs ,their arms fix it so that before they pick up another weapon or piece of rock coke they remember what happens when they get caught break their fucking fingers so just holding a fork to eat is a project you and you can claim back your neighbor hoods and let the word what happens to gun traders and coke sellers. Then you can start claiming your young black men you would have gotten rid of the two things that was ripping your neighbor hoods but unless you are prepared to sacrifice then don’t complain, you are the only that can make your neighbor hood safe so that your wife or daughter can walk safely down the street.

  • bchrista

    And along came montanabill if he claims after this that’s he’s not Racist I don’t know what he is. People are trying to figure out ways to solve the problems that occur in black communities which in a way transfer to white communities and he comes of the wall with his Racist comments, what he overlooks is the facts that blacks are short on cash to start with and that without the introduction of drugs by some of those ultraconservitive types the blacks couldn’t afford the price the number one drug of choice by blacks is coke or as it’s called cocaine and the price of cocaine is very expensive for any amount but the white drug dealer fronts the black dealer the drug and then collects on the back end the black can turn the raw cocaine into crack and sell it at any price he wants to put on it, if he’s smart he will let the first few rocks go a little cheaper than what h will eventually charge because after two or three rocks he’s got him hooked for life, I don’t mind saying it me and a buddy took a ride into the hood one night and bought a rock for $10.00 believe me that was an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. To start with the Rock was about the size of a pencil eraser, so we took a razor blade and split it in half then we took turns smoking my friend had a special pipe he use made out of glass people I don’t know what LSD was like but some have said that crack is simular but more addictive what I felt I couldn’t really explain the different things I felt but I had this urge that I had to have another and I almost went and got another but thank God I have enough will power to resist the temptation orI might have gotten hooked that night that is how strong that crack cocaine is, I fully understand how people can get hooked on crack. And again since it’s so readly available and so profitable that people can make a small fortune selling it and the best is the Hood too many are already hooked but again it goes back to the white man he imported the raw cocaine and from there was born crack one of the most evil drugs introduced to humans, if you do it and have no will power may god have mercy on your soul people have killed their own mother to get money to buy this drug, so I take exception with Defender88 Cocaine is not a drug that I would legalize because of the consequences while your on it your mellow but the after effects is the dangerous part because you will kill to get some more and you don’t give a fuck who has to part with his money when you need a fix. I have been around a little bit the only drug I found to be non habit forming is Pot or Marijuana, Codene, Morphine, Herion Crack, all will cause a violent behavior when you come down. Pot is the only one that wont.