The division of violence

Violence committed with firearms in America is not evenly distributed by geography or race.  According to data collected by The New York Times and discussed in an article, titled, “A Drumbeat of Multiple Shootings, but America Isn’t Listening,” homicides and injuries due to gunfire are concentrated disproportionately among poor, urban blacks.

The Times looked specifically at shooting incidents in which four or more were killed or injured, but their numbers agree with more general reporting on gun violence.  What is broadly understood as a mass shooting, a lone nut seeking to murder to become famous, are rare, as are domestic violence shootings.  Of the specific shootings examined, the Times found that a third were petty arguments, heightened by alcohol or drugs, while another third were tied to gang activity.  About two out of every three domestic violence shootings were done by whites, but three quarters of the total gun violence were black-on-black crimes.

These observations are nothing new.  The link between poverty and crime and the inverse relationship between education and acts of violence are well known and unsurprising.  The more money and education you have, the less violent you’re likely to be.

And water is wet, and the sky is blue on a clear day.  The question as always is what can we do to drive down rates of violence?  The trend since the early 90s has been in the right direction, though we’ve more or less stumbled into this result.  What we need now is a conscious effort to do more.

One thing to note the the data collected by the Times is where the continuing violence takes place.  Two thirds of the shootings they recorded occurred outside the homes of the victims and attackers.  Gun control advocates love to point out that the Supreme Court’s Heller and McDonald decisions were about ownership of firearms within our residences, but the Second Amendment includes carry as a protected right, and if violence is something that is going to happen in public, it makes sense for good people to have the best tools to defend themselves with them.

Yes, that means more guns in more hands in more places.  But contrary to the claims of people who oppose gun rights, this is not the end of the answer.  If we’re serious about dealing with violence, we have to take on poverty, particularly in our larger cities.  Reducing class sizes and expanding resources for urban schools are necessary steps, but the fact is that poverty doesn’t just affect school funding.  Low expectations of parents, a lack of opportunities for people living in poor communities and of sustained commitment from state governments, and poor leadership of schools all combine to tear down any successes that are achieved.

This means we have to spend money.  People who say that this is throwing money at the problem ignore the fact that funds provided to schools in suburbia and the resources available to middle-class families do, in fact, see a good return on the investment.  If we want to reduce violence and protect basic rights at the same time, all Americans have to move past fights that won’t lead to solutions and work together on answers that do promise desirable results.

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of

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