Well, in a sense, the former President is correct. It has become an ideological and partisan issue in that the solution for Democrats and those on the Left is circumvent the 2nd Amendment in every way possible. They would like to make it illegal to own certain types of rifles simply because their stock has a military design such as the AR 15.
The media would have you believe that this is some sort of military grade firearm that somehow magically made its way into the hands of the public. For the record, an AR 15 doesn't stand for "Assault Rifle" or "Automatic Rifle". It stands for "ArmaLite Rifle", the name of the original manufacturer, which is modeled after a military M-14 rifle.
The AR 15 is a semi-automatic rifle, the kind of which that have been around for decades and commonly for hunting or target shooting. Pretty much every manufacturer produces some sort of semi-automatic rifle. The only real difference here is the design of the stock which is intended to give it more of a "wow" factor.
The Left is also wanting to make it much more difficult to purchase handguns of all makes and models, if not outlaw them altogether. There has even been some discussion by Democrats in Congress to require active duty and former military as well as law enforcement members to undergo special psychiatric exams before being allowing to purchase any firearms, especially handguns.
To paraphrase the likes of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison on the subject, a unarmed and unprepared populace is no longer a nation of citizens. It is a nation of subjects. They feared that any government, including the one they just created, could become despotic just as they feared the creation of political parties. As Benjamin Franklin said, "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well armed lamb contesting the vote".
However, what this actually comes down to is, as Obama suggests, a matter of urban versus rural and ultimately, one of race. The truth is that Black youth are five times more likely than any other racial group to be murdered. They are also more likely to be murdered by another Black person than they are a white, Hispanic, or Asian. Whites and Hispanic youths are killed at a rate of 2.3 per 100,000. The percentage for Asian deaths is .90 per 100,000, while for black youth it's 11.8 per 100,000.
Statistics from a 2018 FBI report shows that 16% of white victims were killed by Black attackers while 8% of Black victims had white attackers. However, in crimes in general, in 80% of the cases where the victim was white, the perpetrator was also white. When it came to Black victims, the perpetrator was Black in 89% of the cases. Among Black youth, 8 out of 10 deaths by gun were homicides. The majority of which were committed by another Black individual.
A 2016 study conducted by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine examined 812 deaths in 17 states from 2009 through 2012 which involved law enforcement. The study showed that white individuals were more likely to be the victim of a police shooting than not. In fact, whites represented 52% of the deaths. Black deaths by a law enforcement officer represented just 32.4%, making white deaths 2.8% higher than that of blacks.
Could this be part of the cultural issue Obama spoke of? There is no question that Hispanics tend to avoid law enforcement. Many come from countries that have a long history of brutal and corrupt law enforcement officials where rape, extortion, bribery, and even murder are not unknown. Asians too have a fear and distrust of law enforcement for much the same reasons. Of course, in both cases, language differences add another layer of mistrust.
For whites, it's different. Most police officers and law enforcement officials are white. In fact, 60% of police officers are white. Historically, that number has been much higher. Hispanics make up about 18.2% while 12.9% of police officers are Black and just 3.3% are Asian. Native Americans make up only 1%.
As an aside, the number of white officers has declined since roughly 2019 while Hispanic officers have increased slightly since 2020, which also marks the same point where the number of Black police officers started to decline. The number of Asian and Native American officers has remained consistent.
It's worth pointing out that males comprise 83.2% of all police officers while females make up 16.8%. Also, female officers earn, on average, just 94 cents for every dollar her male counterpart earns. The average salary for a male officer is $54,340 and $51,038 for female officers.
All three groups were historically taught from a young age to respect and follow authority figures, which was often reinforced at home. It was common when I was growing up to seek out a police officer or fireman if you were lost or in trouble. Neighbors would watch out for trouble and thought nothing of calling your parents to rat you out if you did something wrong. Churches and other religious institutions were another source of reinforcing the concept of authority. Schools too practiced strong discipline and misbehavior of any sort wasn't tolerated.
However, this same level of compliance toward authority seems to be missing within the Black community. What happened? Part of the reason is due to the fact that typically white, Asian, and Hispanic households included two parents, and often grandparents, aunts, uncles, and lots of kids! It wasn't uncommon for extended family to live nearby and often visited. So, there was at least a stable family life.
In Black households, this wasn't always the case. In 2011, 72% of Black households consisted of single mothers. In 2016, 48% of all non-Black households were married while just 28% of Black households were. According to one telling statistic, in 1925 Harlem New York, 85% of Black households had two parents. By 1965, following the introduce of various welfare programs, out-of-wedlock births had increased 25% among Blacks.
By 1991, that figure was 68%. As of 2017, it was 77.3%, the most of any racial demographic. This meant that Black children were disproportionately growing up without a father figure in their lives. It also means that most had little adult supervision during critical stages in their lives. While schools and other institutions attempted to fill the gap, they are no substitute for the traditional two parent family.
As an aside, 50% of Blacks have never been married compared to 33% of all other racial groups. Black males, interestingly, were also more likely--15%---to marry non-black women compared to just 7% of Black women who married outside their race.
It's also worth nothing that single parent households are quickly on the rise among Hispanic women in the United States despite a history where out-of-wedlock births carried a strong religious and societal stigma. In Latin America for instance, the trend is spreading in spite of its strong Catholic traditions. 84% of births in Columbia are out-of-wedlock. Mexico, Chile, and Argentina have similar percentages. However, this doesn't mean the absence of a father figure, which remains a key element in Hispanic culture. Meanwhile, this trend has yet to appear in the Asian community.
Another key factor contributing to gun violence among the Black community, especially as it relates to the police, is a toxic culture toward institutional authority in general, and toward law enforcement in particular. It can even be found in some of the music Black youth and young adults tend to listen to (mainly "gangsta rap") which often glorifies guns, drugs, rape, and murder, especially of police officers.
Certain rap performers also promotes what is termed as "savage" or extreme rude behavior toward authority figures. This is often reinforced through peer pressure, which can be quite powerful among teenagers. It can be seen in schools, in malls, neighborhoods and reinforced in movies and video games, while the media (mainstream and Black oriented) has been persistently promoting a subculture of entitlement or victimhood coupled with the creation of "identity politics", a term which developed out of a 1977 statement made by the Combahee River Collective, a black feminist lesbian socialist group.
Identity politics creates false sense of separateness as if one particular group stands uniquely alone with its problems and thus develops a "us vs. them" mentality which pits them against everyone else. At the same time, the media has sought to create a corresponding culture of subservience, manufactured "guilt", willfully ignoring or excusing the "savage" behavior by other racial groups. The media also tends to underreport or downplay certain acts of violence or inappropriate behavior in order to create a false sense of normalcy.
So, what does all this mean? It means that Blacks experience a higher rate of gun related deaths any other racial group. It also means they are more likely to be the victim of a crime where the perpetrator also happens to be Black as well. They are also more likely to be the victim of law enforcement related deaths than not, particularly if they're male. Percentage wise, they have highest number of individuals behind bars, largely based on drug or felony. The media has perpetuated a sense of persecution and entitlement while excusing anti-social behavior.
Nevertheless, the issue of gun control is, at its heart, aimed at controlling the spread of gun related violence. On one hand, gun control advocates believe that by taking guns out of the hands of all citizens, criminals would also voluntarily surrender their guns or obtaining guns would be more difficult to acquire. The end result would be a reduction crime in general. They believe that the 2nd Amendment is outdated and/or misconstrued. By forgoing this unnecessary freedom, it would be a small price to pay in order to create a less violent society. A case of sacrificing one freedom for the greater good of all.
Those who are pro 2nd Amendment, however, believes that the greater good is best served by creating as few potential victims as possible. They argue that if more people are armed or has access to guns, criminals would go elsewhere. After all they point out, criminals are, at their core, cowards. They seek out the opportunities where they're most unlikely to get caught or get hurt. By equaling the odds, gun related violence would decline. They also believe, like the Founding Fathers, that government is not to be trusted.
There a substantial distrust of government on both sides of the political spectrum. In a 2022 Pew Report, only 22% of those polled said they trusted the government. When broken down by race, Asians trusted the government most with 37% as did 29% of Hispanics. Just 24% of Blacks had confidence in the government compared to only 16% of whites. Democrats and Liberals in general expressed the greatest amount of trust with 26% while only 7% Republicans and Conservatives did! Independents also polled at 29%.
72% of whites surveyed said that had confidence in law enforcement to do what was right at least most of the time. 49% of Hispanics agreed (Hispanics are the second largest demographic in the U.S.). However, 66% of Blacks expressed little or no trust in the police to do what was right! Asian responses were too small to tabulate.
That 66% represents 40.1 million people or about 12.1% of our total population. That is a substantial amount, especially when we member that they are affected more by gun related deaths than any other group. They also make up 38.5% of the total prison population. Whites and Hispanics comprise 57.5%. Native Americans are 2.6% and Asians are 1.4%. Nevertheless, Blacks incarceration rates are statistically higher given the percentage of their total population.
We have to find a balance between reducing gun related violence and protecting ourselves. We require gun registration, age requirements, and waiting periods. Certain types of ammunition and gun modification kits (such as "bump stocks") are already banned. Schools used to offer gun safety classes which have long been discontinued. Law enforcements provide gun safety locks free of charge for anyone who asks.
What else can we do? We can reintroduce gun safety classes for first time purchasers of firearms or require periodic gun safety recertification for all gun owners. This can readily be done through the NRA and Gun Owners of America. In many states, certification classes are required to obtain carry and conceal permits. However, some states have done away with those, citing an infringement of their 2nd Amendment rights.
Efforts are underway to allow individuals to sue gun manufacturers for a gun related death. That makes as much sense as suing a car manufacturer in death of someone killed or injured in a automobile accident or suing a knife maker for cutting your finger. It's a complete abrogation of personal responsibility in my opinion.
Meanwhile, respect for law enforcement and authority figures such as teachers needs to be reintroduce. It means removing the graphic violence seen in video games which conditions young minds to devalue life. It means moving away the focus on anti-social behavior by reintroducing a sense of respect and responsibility of one's own actions and ending the sense of entitlement.
Guns are essentially a tool. They can be used for a multitude of purposes, most are good but some aren't. Either way it's the intention of the user not the tool that is at fault regardless of their race, religion, or ethnic background. We can reduce accidental shootings by using common sense such as gun safety training and keeping them away from children. But removing guns from law abiding citizens will have no affect on those who intend on harming others. Criminals don't care a whit about laws or restrictions. In fact, I dare say that criminals are the biggest supporters of gun control.
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