Douglas Andrews / March 31, 2021

Guns, Race, and Culture

Democrats love to talk about “gun deaths,” but they hate to talk about the cultural conditions that cause them.

“Shootings never stopped during the pandemic,” blared the Washington Post headline. “2020 was the deadliest gun violence year in decades.”

The numbers bear it out: According to the article, there were 3,600 more shooting deaths in 2020 than in 2017, the next-deadliest recent year. This marks the highest one-year increase in homicides since such record-keeping began, and much of it occurred in our nation’s big cities, which saw a 30% spike.

The Post then goes on to decry this awful increase of deaths, noting that the majority of “gun violence” occurs “in Black and Brown communities” and pointing the finger at the scourge of COVID-19. The spread of the virus, the article tells us, hurt anti-crime efforts; the shutdowns increased unemployment and shuttered schools and other community programs; and all this generally jacked up our stress levels.

True enough. It stands to reason that folks are more on edge during a pandemic. But then the Post points the finger at police brutality: “The police killing of George Floyd,” the authors write, “caused the collapse of public confidence in law enforcement.”

Ah, yes. Nothing turns our nation’s “Black and Brown communities” into urban O.K. Corrals like a single rogue cop in South Minneapolis.

And yet, buried 11 paragraphs deep within the article is this telling statistic: “An analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found Black males between the ages of 15 and 34 accounted for 37 percent of gun homicides, even though they made up 2 percent of the U.S. population — a rate 20 times that of White males of the same age.”

So, young black men are gunning each other down at a rate 20 times that of young white men. But the Post’s Reis Thebault and Danielle Rindler don’t seem the least bit interested in drilling down into this awful statistic. Nor do any of the researchers, social scientists, and urban studies professors they interviewed for the piece.

Why, it’s as if they’re worried they’ll be branded as racists for suggesting that culture might have something to do with it. Barack Obama had eight years to address this issue, but he pretty much squandered the bully pulpit. Even today, he seems utterly uninterested in asking the tough questions.

“It is long past time for those with the power to fight this epidemic of gun violence to do so,” Obama wrote last week. “It will take time to root out the disaffection, racism and misogyny that fuels so many of these senseless acts of violence. But we can make it harder for those with hate in their hearts to buy weapons of war. We can overcome opposition by cowardly politicians and the pressure of a gun lobby that opposes any limit on the ability of anyone to assemble an arsenal. We can, and we must.”

Obama, though, like others on the Left, is missing the key points about violence entirely.

First, while deaths caused by firearms are indeed up, mass shootings of the kind that compelled him to write the above piece are down considerably. According to the Post’s own database, “There was one mass shooting every 73 days in 2020, compared with one every 36 days in 2019 and one every 45 days in 2017 and 2018.” (And that’s with a pretty generous definition of “mass shooting.” Very few of those are Atlantas or Boulders.)

Second, most intentional deaths inflicted with guns in this country aren’t committed by “those with hate in their hearts” turning their “weapons of war” on one another. No, most of them are, in fact, self-inflicted. Last year, gun suicides outnumbered gun homicides roughly 24,000 to 20,000.

Third, regarding those “weapons of war,” Obama is no doubt referring to the Left’s favorite Second Amendment bogeyman — the so-called assault rifle. And yet, according to FBI crime reports, of the more than 100,000 gun homicides in the U.S. between 2007 and 2017, only 253 were victims of an AR-type rifle. That’s about one-fourth of 1% — or one death for every 400 inflicted by guns. So let’s stop talking about “assault weapons” as if they’re really part of the problem.

And finally, let’s start talking about the cultural crime scene whereby one race of Americans slaughters each other at a far, far higher rate than any other race or ethnic group. Let’s see if we can get Obama and others to stop obsessing about the 14 unarmed blacks who were fatally shot by police in 2019, and instead start talking about the 6,500-or-so blacks being murdered each year by other blacks. Unless and until we do, our nation’s black-on-black genocide will continue unchecked.

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