The body count continues to rise as the nation panders to gun zealots and allows the Constitution to be perverted. Last night the family of 12 year-old Genesis Rincon of Paterson New Jersey made the painful decision to remove her from life support as she laid brain dead, the latest victim of gun violence. The young girl was shot in the head while riding her scooter home, another casualty of America’s failure to reign in the possession of firearms. Just miles away in Newark, the family of another young lady, 17 year-old Chayenne Bond is devastated by her killing; accosted while walking with a friend and shot execution style as she was forced to get on her knees. Over the Independence Day weekend in Chicago, a city that has become our nation’s ‘Killing Fields,’ gun violence swept through the city injuring 82 people and leaving 14 dead. Not all, but most, of the victims are Black and Hispanic, and under 30 years old. Many of the dead are children, innocent bystanders who have been cut down while engaged in routine tasks. For many of our children life expectancy is now jeopardized by the simple act of riding a bicycle, walking through their neighborhood or sitting on a porch.
We are sacrificing a generation of children to our cowardly submission to the mostly racially fueled paranoia and explicitly political subversion of the Second Amendment. The defense of gun ownership as an absolute right based on an irrational interpretation of the Constitution has allowed firearms to be more numerous than textbooks in communities. The gun lobby successfully buys protection in Congress and then wraps their insanity in the American flag as the nation’s streets are transformed into rivers of blood. Gun control has never been about curtailing the rights of citizens who are hunters or firearms collectors, but a reasonable restraint upon the proliferation of guns in the hands of citizens with no need to be armed and criminals. Just ask anyone in law enforcement. Every arrest of an individual with a cache of guns in their house is further proof that America is on a self-destructive path.
Political leadership in our nation’s capital, in states and cities has been complicit or impotent, despite the death toll and the tragic murders of children. The same politicians who pontificate that children are our nation’s future do nothing as our future is buried in cemetery plots. Meanwhile our national death lobby, better known as the National Rifle Association (NRA), purchases the silence of elected officials through campaign contributions and then feeds the paranoia of its mostly white membership by delivering racially coded messages suggesting America’s social order is at risk. By playing up the theme that ‘others’ are trying to take away their members’ rights, the NRA successfully stimulates white fear and insecurities, and by doing so gives license to the arming of America. At the same time the NRA’s hypocrisy enables criminals to access firearms because the free flow of guns inevitably means many of these weapons will wind up in the wrong hands; a situation that does not concern the association because it knows it results mostly in the loss of Black life.
Mind you, the NRA’s sinister workings has white casualties too because in the long run the deaths of whites by gun violence is simply viewed as the cost of doing business. We witnessed this after the Newtown Connecticut tragedy when innocent children were slaughtered. In the midst of what should have been an opportunity to have an honest dialogue on gun control the NRA had the audacity to suggest that the way to prevent such tragedies was to have armed guards in schools. In other words, more guns. The behavior of this not-for-profit organization is so morally corrupt that its nonprofit status should be revoked by the IRS on the basis that it is a threat to public safety.
The blood stain does not stop at the door of the NRA. It also marks the television, motion picture, video gaming and music industries where gun violence is considered essential to the success formula. We have a generation of youth that have become infected by violence, bombarded by imagery that glorifies guns and makes death a transaction in a lifetime of dealing for status. The result is an environment where gun related crimes overwhelm communities and innocent lives like Genesis, Chayenne and Hadiya Pendleton of Chicago pay the cost. Quite honestly even the criminals are victims because I sense that the bearing of arms is an act of suicide as most know that their days are numbered too. The fact that so many young people are desensitized to death until the moment they stare in the coffin of a murdered friend is evidence that lives are now negotiated on a 24-hour basis. It’s why so many Black youth contemplate their own funerals because they measure their mortality in days, not years. This is a public health crisis of epic proportion.
There are those, including many Blacks, who understandably make the case that the responsibility for curtailing gun violence falls upon the Black community. It is a message that I hear often and one that I think dismisses the larger forces at work. Yes, we can do a better job getting to children earlier and teach them conflict resolution skills to avoid the elevation of disputes into armed conflict. Even if we do that it does not address the economic deprivation and manipulation of the nation’s politics to marginalize Blacks and Hispanics through educational malpractice, mass incarceration, and long-term joblessness. The flow of guns in our communities is purposeful and must be seen as weapons of mass destruction as intended by the gun lobby. More effort is put on stemming the flow of marijuana than enforcing gun laws and stopping the flood of illegal guns in cities. It is why New Jersey Governor Chris Christie can veto legislation to limit the size of gun magazines; a move that only has relevance in the context of mass destruction in communities of color. Christie isn’t standing on constitutional ground; he is maneuvering for political advantage to fuel presidential ambition. Guns are simply the tools of population and political control.
Perhaps we should employ the tactics of the so-called ‘right-to-life’ lobby that uses pictures of aborted fetuses and start showing up at the offices of pro-gun legislators with autopsy photos of children killed by gun violence. The point is that we have been playing too nice as we bury our dead. We must expose those in Congress and the Supreme Court who are the tools of the gun lobby. Our murdered children deserve justice and we are the only ones who can secure it in their names.
Walter Fields is Executive Editor of NorthStarNews.com.