Our Brothers’ Keeper?

With shooting deaths of young black males at the hands of cops and vigilantes dominating the news, and all the shooters claiming “reasonable” fear for their lives, I thought we might divine something valuable about our violent culture from gun statistics.  

What I learned blows the stereotypes of what make these encounters so deadly for black males right out of the water!

The following stats were released in 2013 by the Pew Research Group:

41% of Non-hispanic whites own guns.   Less than half that number, 19% of blacks own guns.  Even Hispanics own more guns than blacks, by a margin of 1%.

Why then do blacks represent 55% of all gun homicide victims even though they are a dwindling 13% of the population?  

The answer to that could be the insecure environment that is poverty.  At 28%, black Americans have the highest poverty rate of any racial sector, and that rate grows even higher for black children.

By age, young people of all ethnicities and both genders (ages 18-26)  are the least likely to own guns, at 26%.   People aged 50 and above are the most likely to own guns, at 40%.

Rural residents are twice as likely as urban residents to own guns.  The ratio is 50% to 25%, with suburban dwellers clocking in at 36%.

Most of the deaths of young black males that have recently made the news occurred in urban areas, with sophisticated police forces in the mix.

Not at all surprising is the fact that gun owners are more than twice as likely to be Republicans as Democrats, but that’s a conversation for another day.

The intuitive takeaway seems to be that somebody has very successfully sold the truly gun-dangerous sectors of the population a false meme that young black males are gonna shoot you dead if you don’t get ’em first.

That was even more dramatically emphasized by the latest horrifying death of a young black male stopped for a minor offense, subdued by six officers, and finally choked to death as he literally begged for breath.

Fifty years after Martin Luther King, you’d have thought we’d be over this crap.

Then again, there are several other crazy ideas we should have outgrown, like the conviction held by so many that capitalism is noble and that anyone who isn’t prospering in America is guilty of pure laziness.

Add that to a newly sanctified second amendment and you’ve got the makings for a perfect storm of social unrest.

It isn’t young black males that should make law enforcement and the radical right tremble.  It’s almost everyone else in America, because they are the ones who are armed and growing more and more impatient with the utter impossibility of treading water in this new age of Robber Barons.

If young black males finally do arm-up for the class war, there will be legions of poor white folks way ahead of them.

Then, Gun Enthusiasts, know why we said: “be careful what you wish for!”

About Sue Prent

Artist/Writer/Activist living in St. Albans, Vermont with my husband since 1983. I was born in Chicago; moved to Montreal in 1969; lived there and in Berlin, W. Germany until we finally settled in St. Albans.

5 thoughts on “Our Brothers’ Keeper?

  1. I for one would love to see a statistical analysis comparing the deaths of police officers at the hands of actual assailants of various races, to the deaths of civilians at the hand of police, by race.    This overlaid with the circumstances under which civilians died – in commission of an actual crime, or rightly or wrongly suspected of a crime, or  in what should have been non-life threatening circumstances.

    I wonder if such an analysis would have results contrary to conventional thinking justifying much of recent police and grand jury behavior?  

  2. you’re right I read it but it saw it as a more generalized rounding up of stats. Nothing wrong w/that & actually a great tool to use actual “facts” but I guess it’s the specific bomb-dropping condemnations that get the attention.

    I must say as useful & necessary, numbers, esp followed by lots of zeros, other comparitive stats, pies-on-easels or anywhere, graphs, chalkboards, whiteboards, overhead projector presentations I suspect are a leading cause of ‘permanent eye-glaze disorder’.

    Thank you for your work. Anything antigun is a no-no for me as at least in VT since the murders & other “gun violence” including tazers which are as deadly in many instances are caused by our friendly shoot-to-kill police dept, investigated by other police & LE sanctioned by “police commissions” and washed like a southern backwater by our ever-compliant AG Bill Sorrell.

    Last year legislation was sponsored to reign in this violent culture &  make LE answerable to those of us who pay their salaries as well as support them all to the grave w/its vast array of so-called “benevolent” (how creepy) societies, clubs & all associated members – what happened???

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *