Welcome to Common Gunsense

I hope this blog will provoke some thoughtful reflection about the issue of guns and gun violence. I am passionate about the issue and would love to change some misperceptions and the culture of gun violence in America by sharing with readers words, photos, videos and clips from articles to promote common sense about gun issues. Many of you will agree with me- some will not. I am only one person but one among many who think it's time to do something about this national problem. The views expressed by me in this blog do not represent any group with which I am associated but are rather my own personal opinions and thoughts.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Claims of racism in gun incidents

After the George Zimmerman trial's outcome, there has been a conversation going about whether or not Zimmerman targeted Trayvon Martin because he was Black. Young black men and their parents reacted to the trial by having the discussion about what it means to be black in America. Are black Americans more vulnerable to hate crimes and killings than white Americans? What about gangs? Are gang members mostly made up of people of color? Are there more black on white killings than white on black killings? Are young black boys more likely to kill people than young white boys? The answer is actually, No. Read the above articles.

All of these questions are relevant considering recent events. And considering that today is the 50th Anniversary celebration of the March on Washington, they must be discussed. Are we better off than we were 50 years ago considering race relations and racial equality? There has been a lot of discussion of that in the media given the recent Supreme Court decision to gun the Voting Rights Act. As soon as the decision came down, many states proceeded with attempts at voter suppression. We all know who these new provisions will hurt the most. People of color, of course. Even Republican General Colin Powell is speaking truth to power about these attempts to stop some Americans from voting.

The other nonsensical and dangerous conversation thread coming from the far right involves racial accusations about the tragic shooting of an Australian baseball player in Oklahoma. I wrote about this in a previous post. One of my commenters responded with some right wing talking points about the shooters which got me thinking about where this was coming from. It didn't take long for more discussion about this to ensue on both sides of the spectrum. What I found were some incendiary and hyperbolic statements and even some that made absolutely no sense at all from right wing media sources. They are disturbing. Here are a few:

There's more of this baseless and ugly stuff. This is exactly what we don't need right now in America. It is a political and gun culture gone wrong and should not be acceptable. Why do these folks continue with this line of attack? What is the purpose? Do they actually believe this stuff? Unfortunately there is a small segment of America that does. And ramping up this fear and paranoia of people of color is making our country a more dangerous place. There is no evidence for their claims. 

Meanwhile, the Australians have seen this shooting for what it was. Not a racial crime but an American gun culture gone wrong. The former deputy Prime Minister of Australia spoke out when he said this:

“The U.S. has chosen the pathway of illogical policy with regard to guns," Australia’s former deputy prime minister Tim Fischer said Friday. "They cannot expect not to have any criticism of it worldwide.”
“I am angry because it is corrupting the world, this gun culture of the United States.” 
His remarks came as the family of slain catcher Christopher Lane struggled to understand why three teens killed him, apparently telling cops they were bored.
"He was a kid on the cusp of making his life," the victim’s father, Peter, told The Age newspaper in Melbourne. "He gave up a lot to follow his dreams. There's not going to be any good come out of this because it was just so senseless."
Lane, 22, had left Melbourne to attend East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma, where he was on a baseball scholarship. 
Fischer said the lack of gun control in the U.S. had led to a massacre “each and every year since 1996” - in contrast to Australia, which has restrictions on firearms ownership.
He said the majority of illegally obtained guns used in crimes in Australia and Mexico had come from the U.S.
He added that he was not against guns, and kept weapons at his rural home, but added: "I am in favor of firearms sensible regulations to have the best of both worlds.
Three teenagers have been charged in what some are calling the "thrill killing" of a college baseball star after one of the suspects told officials "we were bored. We had nothing to do. We decided we'd kill somebody."
"Anybody can tomorrow go to a gun show in Oklahoma or California and buy a gun without a simple background check. That is illogical.”
He also said Australians should “think twice” before visiting the U.S.
"I’m not using the word boycott but I do say Australians should think twice and take into acct the risk of going to the USA in the circumstances that unfold there," saying visitors would be "15 times more likely to be shot dead than if they stayed in Australia, per capita."
Fischer is expressing a view that is shared by many outside of the U.S. What is wrong with our gun culture? How do 3 young men, bored on a hot summer day, get a gun and decide that killing an innocent young man, out for a jog, is a good idea? Where did the gun come from? Teen-agers can't buy guns. As we say on the Kid Shootings blog, "every gun in the hands of a child must first pass through the hands of an adult." That is what this discussion should be about. This is not a racial issue unless evidence emerges to the contrary. Until then, it is only fanning the flames of racism and paranoia about American minorities and it is the ugly underbelly of America emerging for all to see.

If you, like me, believe that we can do something to stop the senseless shootings, please go to Voices Against Violence and make your voice loud and clear about passing common sense gun laws. Our politicians need to hear from the reasonable people who don't agree with the corporate gun lobby and the far right media. What we are doing now is simply not working. It's time for a change. Let's get to work.


  1. I really don't think it matters what race a criminal is, either they are law abiding or they aren't. Either we are all equal or we aren't. Either "they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character" or they won't. That said, the article you linked does not support your claims that "Are gang members mostly made up of people of color? Are there more black on white killings than white on black killings? Are young black boys more likely to kill people than young white boys? The answer is actually, No."

    From the article 49% of all murders in a time period were of blacks. So lets look at 2005 because it is easy to get data for that year. Blacks comprised 13% of the population. http://www.pewhispanic.org/2008/02/11/us-population-projections-2005-2050/

    That same year blacks comprised 32.8% of the gang population. http://www.nationalgangcenter.gov/Survey-Analysis/Demographics

    Whites on the otherhand comprised 67% of the population and their gang membership comprised a whopping 9.5%.

    From one of the links about how blacks don't commit crimes against blacks ( http://www.politifact.com/florida/statements/2013/jul/17/tweets/look-statistic-blacks-and-murder/ ) we find that in 2005 7999 blacks were killed and 8017 whites were killed. This comes out as an almost 50/50 split on black vs white death. From the article we learn that 94% of the blacks were killed by blacks and 85% of the whites were killed by whites. So slightly more blacks were killed by blacks that whites were killed by whites. Of the murders where we know the race of the killer, 47.5 were killed by whites and 52.5 were killed by blacks. Still not a big difference until we remember that blacks were only 13% of the population. Based on percentage of black population there should have only been 2602 murders of black people that year and there should have been 13413 murders of white people.

    I am not condoning the murder of anyone and I am not making any statement as to race other than your contention is crap as was the article you linked to. To claim there is no black on black crime because there is also white on white crime is absurd.

    Frankly, as far as I am concerned there is crime period The race of either the victim or the criminal should be of no concern to anyone except racists. If you are going to drag in race at least be honest.

    1. Robin, I am not sure how you came to your comments based on what I wrote, what the article I linked to and what the article you linked to said. The Politifact article says this: " "Homicides overwhelmingly happen among people who know each other," he said. "There are relatively few absolutely straight-up stranger homicides. Homicide is a phenomenon of social networks. ... Most peoples’ relationships are primarily with someone of their own race or ethnicity. As long as anybody has studied homicide, this has been the pattern." (See the historical data.)

      Writer Jamelle Bouie in The Daily Beast wrote a response to conservatives who have been trying to shift the conversation to black-on-black crime while ignoring that the same shared racial identity holds true for white-on-white crime, too.

      Bouie wrote that what is missing from the conversation about crime is that "it’s driven by opportunism and proximity; If African-Americans are more likely to be robbed, or injured, or killed by other African-Americans, it’s because they tend to live in the same neighborhoods as each other. Residential statistics bear this out (PDF); blacks are still more likely to live near each other or other minority groups than they are to whites. And of course, the reverse holds as well—whites are much more likely to live near other whites than they are to minorities and African-Americans in particular.""

      Somehow you missed that what the far right media and social media is doing is blaming blacks for crimes and murders against white people. Of course, the point is that that is simply not true. But you seemed to have missed the main point of my article. When I ask questions, they are not saying that is what I think. You have missed that apparently.

      If you don't believe this stuff, then hopefully you are not listening to or watching the far right stuff that has come up with this nonsense and false assertions. They are wanting to blame minorities for crime in America and it is simply not true. If the far right and the gun rights fanatics can scare white people into believing they must fear black and other minority folks, then they can sell guns. I guess you missed that point.

  2. Far right media? I don't listen to Rush, I think he's a waste of time and is as obnoxious as Chris Matthews or Piers Morgan - folks who will say anything to get ratings or noticed.

    As far as racism, MSNBC and CBS are both facing lawsuits not only from George Zimmerman, but critical attacks from Media Matters and others who watch broadcasts for accuracy - the fact that the 911 calls were presented in a manner to sound as if Zimmerman was speaking something racist is indeed troubling.

    The recent cases of black on white crime don't have enough information on them to make a discernible judgment - but I will be interested in seeing if in fact there was racism involved and if the media has the stones to report on it as vociferously as they did with Zimmerman - which was very much an attempt in my opinion, to incite racial tension to stretch out the story, even in absence of actual fact. Even Martin's parents didn't see the shooting as racially motivated - I don't know why this remains an issue or why our justice department cannot simply respect the decision of the FL jury.

    I don't care about race. It doesn't matter to me. Im accepting of all races, religions, cultures etc up until their beliefs infringe upon my personal freedoms.

    On racism though, you were saying in another discussion with me about how you trust government....I do too, to a much lesser extent, then I read this article about a DHS armorer whose personal website advocates race war, the killing of whites, gays, racially mixed persons and "uncle Tom" blacks, who get along with whites.


    1. The Homeland Security employee should be fired. All you need to do is check out the various right wing media sites, however, for where the racism resides. As to your Media Matters comment, you will have to send me a link. Things are said by many that shouldn't be. But most are coming from the far right.