By: Sidney Spear
With increased media coverage, mass shootings and the debate of how to prevent them has called into question the depths of the second amendment more than it has ever been before. However, has our community been left out of the conversation? Even further, have we decided it is not a worthy conversation to join?
I have found some similarities in how the mass shooting events are covered and displayed to the masses. However, more importantly, in this piece, I would like to highlight what is not talked about by the media and why that is the case. My goal as a writer is to stimulate the reader's mind, spark a question or a fire within you that encourages you to seek your truth.
Here is the list of the top five mass shootings in the United States to date in order from most killed.
- October 1st, 2017- In Las Vegas Nevada 58 people were killed and over 500 more wounded when Stephen Paddock opened fire from his hotel room into a concert crowd.
- June 12th, 2016 – 49 people were killed, and more than 50 others injured when Omar Saddiqui Mateen opened fire inside Pulse Nightclub in Orlando Florida.
- April 16, 2007 – Seung-Hui Cho, a student of Virginia Tech University, killed 32 people on the university campus in Blacksburg Virginia.
- December 14, 2012 – At Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut, Adam Lanza gunned down 20 children and six adults. Later it was found that he also killed his mother while she lay sleeping in her bed, bringing the total lost in this mass shooting to 27.
- November 5th, 2017 – Devin Patrick Kelley walked into First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs Texas and took the lives of 26 individuals.
The top five worst mass casualty shootings in United States history have all happened in the last 11 years. These shootings have resulted in a total of 191 people who have been killed in these acts. Consequently, politicians have run for office on the promise to implement some restriction of access to firearms to the public. Many of your favorite celebrities and huge corporations have come out and spoken against the right to bear arms. Social movements, most recently and notably; “enough is enough” spearheaded a massive rally in Washington DC this year in which hundreds of thousands of people attended. The rally was put together by a group of students who were apart of the Parkland Florida shooting in which 17 were killed.
In contrast, it is believed the NRA spent over 50 million dollars in recent years to support the right to bear arms as well as suppress those against it. All this due to the lives lost in random mass shootings that were conducted in an 11-year span.
Never mind looking back over a decade of time, let’s look at right now. Specifically, let's look at the murder total in the city of Chicago, Illinois. According to the Chicago Tribune, as of Sunday, July 8th, 2018, 252 people have been killed there. A number, which believe it or not is being celebrated since it is 105 fewer deaths than what was recorded during the same period in 2017. Let that sink in a moment.
I am sure, just like myself, your memory bank is drawing a blank on being able to remember any extensive national coverage, celebrities speaking out or significant corporations taking a stand against the violence in Chicago. By in large, it has ever happened. While 252 were killed this year in the city of Chicago, the nation found more time to talk about two men being harassed in Starbucks.
Furthermore, over the last 365 days, there have been 570 murders in the City of Chicago according to the Chicago Tribune. Guns caused 492 of those deaths. Majority of the victims were black males. How could these “mass shootings” receive so much attention and garner the amount of reaction that they have, but inner-city blacks get nothing? Barely even a mention on the national media scale.
Do you recall back in the early part of February 2013, Christopher Jordan Dorner of Orange County California, killed four people and wounded another three? He wrote an 11,000-word letter highlighting the injustices of the LAPD towards himself, he also listed all of the police officers by name including their family members that he planned on killing until his name was cleared. His story ended with him shooting himself inside a Big Bear cabin that he had been burned to the foundation after a standoff with law enforcement. Alternatively, how about more recently in 2016, Micah Xavier Johnson, killed five and injured nine police officers while also wounding another two civilians in downtown Dallas, Texas? He like Dorner took the time to explain his actions, highlighting the string of police brutality acts that at the time seemed to be a weekly occurrence. Johnson was cornered in a building and killed by police using a robot loaded down with explosives.
These events were never covered with the same level of attention and effects than any of the other mass shootings were, there was no march on Washington DC due to them. What better reason to justify taking away access to weapons, than two disgruntled black men going on vicious killing sprees aimed at those who protect and serve “our” community? Maybe it is because the media is not just reporting what happens on a daily basis. Perhaps they show and tell us what they want, to influence our thoughts and behaviors? Could it be that they are afraid to explain what it can look like when a black man reaches his breaking point, and does not unleash that fury on his people, but unloads it directly on the source of his pain?
A portion of the second amendment states,” to provide specific freedoms to citizens and limit the power of the government.” In both, the cases of Christopher Dorner and Micah Johnson, were these individuals not doing precisely what the second was created to do? Sure, no government wants its citizens' uprising and killing authoritative figures when they feel injustices have occurred, and rightfully so. That is not the way to conduct yourself in a civilized society, and both acts accomplished nothing but pain and loss. However, on the flip side, no citizen wants to feel powerless and exist with emotions of real fear of what may happen to themselves and the ones they love just because of their skin color.
So, what gives?
Am I advocating blacks take to the streets and start firing upon police? ABSOLUTELY NOT. They would not be able to get the coffins out of storage fast enough at the rate we would be gunned down if we took on that suicide mission. I am not even advocating for a protest of any kind. What I am supporting, is for people of color to open their eyes and develop their minds. Do not just accept whatever someone wants to give you, but instead, analyze it. Ask yourself does it make sense, or why did they give it to us this way?
Wake up, yes Donald Trump is as bad as many of us knew he was. Its gotten to the point where many of us are embarrassed to be American, but don’t be the person who says, “see, I told you Trump is no good, that’s why I voted for Hilary.” Really? You voted for the person who called black men “super-predators”? You do remember Bill Clinton, right? Now stop smiling and get rid of that sense of pride, he was not your first black president. He was though the president that presided over the largest increase of federal and state prisons than any other president in US history. He did support the 100 to 1 disparity of sentencing for crack vs. powder cocaine. He was the leader and champion of the three-strikes rule. When Bill Clinton left office, America had the highest incarceration rate in the world. Also, guess which ethnic group was incarcerated more than any other? That’s right; it was African Americans. My purpose is not to beat up on the Clinton’s and tell you your vote was wrong, some of you may say it’s unfair to put all that Bill did on Hilary. Well, she got to where she is today partially by supporting his ideas and thoughts. The rest was her own doing.
I will leave you with her quote in its entirety when she voiced her support for the 1994 crime bill. “They are not just gangs of kids anymore,” she said. “They are often the kinds of kids that are called ‘super-predators.’ No conscience, no empathy. We can talk about why they ended up that way, but first, we have to bring them to heel.” Wow! Many of us never forgive a friend or family member for things they have said about us, but we will overlook this? Alternatively, maybe we will act like it never happened. No, that’s right, she apologized and said she was wrong for some of the things said during that time. Moreover, since she is now on stage with Mary J. Blige and Beyoncé likes her, then we believe her. All is good now.
Wake up! You do not have to take everything that is presented to you. In fact, I would highly advise against it and tell you it is likely not something you want if you did your homework. We can not change the system we live in overnight, but we can stop making excuses and change the way we think as well as improve our level of acceptance. Support the second amendment, at the very least, learn about it. Why are all of these white people going crazy about protecting the right to bear arms? It’s because they know the importance of it, they truly live by the “it’s the principle of the matter” and the “I’d rather get caught with it than without it” doctrines. The real question is why don’t you?
Lastly, I will leave you with this. Illinois, California and New York have undoubtedly the strictest gun laws of all the states. Look at all the gun violence that has occurred in these states. How has gun control stopped Chicago from being dubbed “Chiraq”? We are not just talking about one or two people being killed randomly. Again, more people have died THIS YEAR in Chicago that have been killed in the top five worst mass shootings in American history COMBINED. I’ve yet to see a group of black gang members in gun stores buying every weapon available. So where are all these guns coming from that end up killing hundreds in the inner city? I am willing to bet, and if we dug a little deeper, we would find the guns that these black men are using against each other in their neighborhoods, are not being made available to them by people who look like they do…. Hmm, wow, what a thought, maybe that’s why we do not get as much attention as others do? Perhaps someone or something out there knows the real truth behind the lies and will do anything to make sure you never see it. However, how hard are we making them hide things? Truth is stranger than fiction, and the best place to hide is in plain sight.