As time passes since the Newtown shooting, it would appear some are taking a less knee-jerk look at gun control and are stepping back a bit to see a fuller picture. I must admit that while I watched the wall-to-wall coverage of the Connecticut tragedy I was taken aback by the virtually complete lack of African-Americans. Other than the occasional police officer there don’t seem to be any people of color in Newtown.
A recent Op Ed piece in the New York Times, Who Pays for the Right to Bear Arms? by David Cole raises the issue of race, poverty and guns.
Racial disparities in gun violence far outstrip those in almost any other area of life. Black unemployment is double that for whites, as is black infant mortality. But young black men die of gun homicide at a rate eight times that of young white men.
This fact isn’t new, sadly. For years inner city Blacks and Latinos have been the victims of gun-related crimes at much higher rates than other segments of society. One only has to watch a few episodes of A&E’s The First 48 to get an idea, albeit from an entirely non-scientific source: this program illustrates the work homicide detectives in various US cities do to bring justice to victim’s families in the wake of murders, but it is amazing that a vast majority of the victims are either Black or Latino and often those accused of or those who confess to the crimes are themselves Black or Latino. Is the US made up of rolling fields of farmland, a few suburbs and a series of densely populated inner cities where young Blacks and Latinos, due to poverty, are intent upon killing each other?
If the nation were to view the everyday tragedies that befall young black and Latino men in the inner cities with the same sympathy that it has shown for the Newtown victims, there would be a groundswell of support not just for gun law reform, but for much broader measures.
At least the subject of race and poverty and crime is coming to the attention of the media. Now if only something can be done to remedy the inequalities before entire generations of Blacks and Latinos are wiped out.