President Barack Obama is using his White House bully pulpit to speak out against gun violence in America – particularly in black neighborhoods where more young black men are gunning down each other in the time it takes to blink.
As the black body count continues to rise in cities like Chicago, Detroit and St. Louis, Obama is correctly using his second term in office to confront a crisis in the black community where black gang members show absolutely no remorse after pulling a trigger and taking a life.
The black community needs the president’s voice — and leadership.
“We can’t rest until all our children can go to school or walk down the street free from the fear they’ll be struck down by a bullet,” Obama said Saturday night during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Phoenix Awards Dinner in Washington, D.C.
Earlier this year, in the president’s State of the Union address, Obama moved shined a bright light on urban gun violence in America which has been neglected by Capitol Hill legislators for decades. Much of mainstream society has ignored crime in inner cities, and, let’s be honest, some black folks generally don’t like to discuss the root causes of gun violence in urban America.
“Just two days ago, 13 people were shot during a pickup basketball game in Chicago – including a 3-year-old girl,” said Obama, who calls Chicago home.
Obama knows the sobering statistics: There are about 310 million guns in America and about 40% of households have guns. The overall number of guns in America’s households has increased to about one gun per person, up from one gun for every two persons in the 1960s. Sadly, America has the highest rate of gun ownership of any country in the world.
And this is why Obama, correctly, wants a strict gun control law. But he can’t move forward with Republicans blocking the president at every turn.
“We fought the good fight earlier this year,” Obama said about his push for gun control legislation. “And we came up short.”
Meanwhile, there have been 32 gun homicides per day, every day for the past ten years, according to statistics. That is about 60 times the rate of U.S. military deaths in wars over the past 10 years, and more than 3 times the average of all murders in most developing nations.
“As long as there are those who fight to make it as easy as possible for dangerous people to get their hands on a gun, we can’t rest – for the sake of our children, we must be the ones who do the responsible work of making it harder,” Obama said.
In February, Obama traveled to the South Side of Chicago and spoke to 16 black male students who are growing up poor, troubled, and some without fathers in their lives.
The students, who attend Hyde Park Academy High School, are part of an anti-youth violence program called “Becoming A Man” (B.A.M.) that teaches at-risk students about violence prevention, accountability, self-determination, positive anger expression and respect for women.
On the issue of gun control, Obama has been consistent throughout the year. And he has forcefully spoken out about the toll gun violence is taking on black communities across this county.
The president is right when he says America needs tougher gun control laws, but we must also ask ourselves why more young black men are finding it so easy to point a gun, pull a trigger, and commit murder on the streets of their own neighborhoods.
When did black life become so cheap? And when will the violence end?