Are We at War?
Although the Yemeni war dead numbers are in question, because of the difficulty in compiling the accurate numbers of casualties, Save the Children approximated the number at 50,000 in 2017 for the number of children killed by guns. Children in the United States are killed at a rate of about 1,300 per year. The one thing both countries have in common is the proliferation of guns. Between the years 1999 to 2017— approximately 39,000 children—have been killed due to gun violence. A lot can be made of violence in the cities for the deaths of children but hidden in those numbers is the wide gap of mass shootings in suburbs as opposed to cities. No one factor is more important than the other in the death of a child; conservatives screaming CHICAGO, or liberals pointing fingers at angry celibate white men will not solve the problem.
The problem in America is a simple one, GUNS. I am sure many of us want a more complicated answer but the country keeps dancing around a simple issue, 42% of Americans purport to own one or more firearms. According to an article from Guns and America, the U.S. is 4% of the world’s population but owns about 40% of civilian-owned guns globally, according to a 2018 report from the Switzerland-based Small Arms Survey. Correspondingly, we shoot more people than any other developed nation. This is a simple cause-and-effect paradigm. Gun owners cite the current rising crime in America as the reason for purchasing guns but from 1993 through 2010 gun homicides dropped precipitously. Gun violence dropped 49 percent from the 1993 numbers during the first two years of the Obama presidency but gun purchases rose. Coincidentally or for reasons I will allow the reader to speculate, gun purchases increased following the election of America’s first black president.
At first, I believed that the problem was men missing their GI Joes with the Kung-Fu grips, but just recently the influx of more women buying guns is alarming. As a black man, I am not opposed to women of any color defending themselves and their families. In today’s climate of white supremacy and police killings, I fear that people of color are being persuaded into making themselves so-called legally justifiable targets.
“Don’t get shooted”
J.J. Hill Montessori Magnet school nutrition supervisor Philando Castile was driving his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, along with her 4-year old daughter and was pulled over by Officer Jeronimo Yanez at 9:05 pm July 6, 2016; 62 seconds later he uttered his dying last words, “ I wasn’t reaching for it.” Mr. Castile was a licensed gun owner who died because he was not allowed to exercise his rights to carry. If you read the account of the story and believe the words of Ms. Reynolds, through the shouts of Officer Yanez, Mr. Castile was trying to say he was reaching for his licenses and insurance, not his gun, after being instructed by the officer to produce them. Castile was shot seven times at close range with Ms. Reynold and her daughter in the line of fire. Traumatized and splattered in her fiancé’s blood Diamond Reynolds was placed in the rear seat of a police car with her 4-year-old who attempted to soothe her mother with the words, “ I don’t want you to get shooted.”
Officer Yanez was eventually acquitted of all charges. In essence, Mr. Castile was his legal target. I love in the heart of Philadelphia and guns will not save black America and black womanhood or black childhood will not dissuade an officer.
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