Gun Outrage in Black and White: Why Parents Matter

Crystal Wright

12/21/2012 12:01:00 AM - Crystal Wright

Young Black men are killing each other every day and the problem is particularly acute in urban cities like Chicago from which President Barack Obama hails. Yet, I haven’t seen Obama or the mainstream media shed a tear over the fact more than 50% of America’s murder victims are black and nearly all (85%) of those blacks killed are young men.

Nor do we see media or presidential outrage or calls for more rigid gun control laws when young black kids are heinously murdered like we do when the victims are mostly white. Neither words nor God can explain the horrific mass slayings that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary, Columbine, Virginia Tech University, Aurora and those to come in our future.

But why don’t we hear the same pain or calls for tougher gun laws from the mainstream press when Trayvon Martin was killed? Instead, the media immediately turned it into a racially motivated killing of a black boy by a white man yet showed no horror over the alarming rate of young black men who are both perpetrators and victims of homicides.

The homicide rate among blacks is beyond epidemic. From 1999--2002, among persons aged 10--19 years, the homicide rate for blacks was 10 times that of whites, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It gets worse; as of 2007, “black males age 15-34 were at the greatest risk of death by homicide.” Blacks seem to do a good job of consistently holding the highest homicide rates of any race in America. Where’s the societal outrage over the reality that 55% of all federal prisoners are black though blacks only account for 12%- 12% of the population, as Shelby Steele noted.

The double standard the mainstream media shows toward its coverage of black vs. white homicides is beyond dishonest. When black Kansas City Chiefs football player Javon Belcher shot his wife Kassandra Perkins and then killed himself with the same gun, I don’t remember the news media calling for tougher gun laws. Why? Is it okay for blacks to kill?

At the Sandy Hook prayer vigil, Obama declared the nation isn’t “doing enough” to combat tragedies like Adam Lanza’s killing of 20 children and seven adults. He added “We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end.” Two things bothered me when I read the president’s remarks. First, America has never tolerated madmen or any man or woman killing innocent people. Never!

But secondly and equally as important, why haven’t we heard President Obama give a prayer vigil in cities like New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Baton Rouge where blacks are butchering each other with guns? In 2010, black males age 15-29 accounted for 3% of New York City’s population but 33% of its murder victims. When 7-year-old Heaven Sutton was killed June 27, 2012 by gang gunfire in Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel pledged to do something about the city’s high murder rate. I’ve never heard Obama describe these killings of blacks as “an endless series of deadly shootings across the country, almost daily reports of victims, many of them children . . .their only fault was being in the wrong place at the wrong time,” as he described the poor souls of Sandy Hook.

What the media and the president seem to be saying is when black kids die, it’s not a gun control thing but a national disgrace we’ve come to accept as normal but when mostly white people are killed is reprehensible. Both are reprehensible and ending the cycle of violence has nothing to do with more gun laws. Homicides committed by young black men and white men like Adam Lanza have everything to do with a lack of parenting, personal responsibility and/or society’s mishandling of mental illness.

More young black men are becoming murderers because more young black men are increasingly becoming casualties of fatherless homes. According to the Brookings Institute, 73% of all black babies in America are born to single mothers compared to 30% of white babies, 50% of Hispanics and 40% of all kids overall.

Brookings found “more than 36% of the unmarried fathers had a prison record, five times the share of married fathers who ever spent time in prison.” The study also found that boys born to unwed mothers experience more behavioral problems, such as engaging in crime, than girls.

When you don’t have a mom and dad caring for you, asking you if you did your homework or teaching you right from wrong, is it any wonder, young black men are becoming murderers? A lack of parenting also is to blame for Adam Lanza’s killing rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School and others like Columbine and Virginia Tech.

News reports haven’t been able to confirm whether Adam Lanza’s mother and father ever sought treatment for his son’s mental illness. Nancy Lanza told babysitters never to leave Adam alone. But more importantly, Lanza’s mother was an irresponsible gun owner. Knowing her son was mentally disturbed, Nancy kept guns unsecured in her home, easily accessible to her sick child, which was utterly negligent.

We didn’t see these kinds of horrific shootings 40 years ago nor did we have the high rate of black men murdering each other. I think that’s because we had stronger families, lower divorce rates and virtually no outsourcing of parenting to video games and the Internet.

The rise in young male murderers isn’t about a need for more gun laws. Connecticut has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation, which didn’t stop Adam Lanza. Parents need to parent. Society needs to bring back shame in our culture and tell teenagers it’s not cool to have a baby. America also needs to do a better job of treating mental illness like a disease not a stigma. We can have a conversation about gun laws but Sandy Hook is about the skeletons in our culture we refuse to talk about.