Biden is calling for new gun laws. Safety measures could literally save Black lives

OPINION: Donna Brazile writes that the toll of gun violence on Black Americans is especially severe.

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the recent mass shootings from the White House on June 02, 2022 in Washington, DC.(Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

President Joe Biden’s call in his address to the nation Thursday night for modest and common-sense gun safety measures deserves the support of Republicans as well as Democrats in Congress. But sadly, far too many Republican elected officials are more committed to protecting gun manufacturers and gun extremists than to protecting the American people.  

On an average day, a staggering 111 people are shot and killed and 210 are wounded by gunfire in the United States, according to the group Brady United Against Violence. 

The toll of gun violence on Black Americans is especially severe. Brady reports that “Black Americans comprise 59% of victims of gun homicide but only 14% of the US population.” And according to the group Everytown for Gun Safety: “Black Americans are disproportionately impacted by gun violence. They experience 10 times the gun homicides, 18 times the gun assault injuries, and nearly 3 times the fatal shootings by police of white Americans.” 

Every one of the people killed by gunfire leaves behind grieving loved ones, friends, neighbors and colleagues. But we never hear about most of these shootings — there are simply too many for the news media to report on them all, and too many for us to absorb. 

A person holds a program for the funeral service for Aaron Salter Jr. at The Chapel on Crosspoint on Wednesday, May 25, 2022, in Getzville, N.Y. Salter Jr. was killed in the Buffalo supermarket shooting on May 14. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex)

Only mass shootings, where four or more people are killed or injured, generally make national news. There have been 231 of these so far this year in the U.S., claiming the lives of 256 people and injuring 1,010, according to the Gun Violence Archive.  

One of the shootings that drew little national attention was in my hometown of New Orleans, where a woman was killed and two men were wounded Tuesday outside a graduation ceremony at Xavier University, one of America’s top-ranked historically Black colleges and universities. This really hit home for me.

We’ve all heard about the most recent mass shootings: 10 Black people murdered in a Buffalo supermarket by a white racist; 19 little children and two teachers murdered at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas; and four people shot and killed at a hospital campus in Tulsa. But these are just a small portion of the gun deaths that plague our nation.

As Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.)  said this week: “Responsible gun owners and Americans want sensible, overwhelmingly popular proposals that will help scale back the scope of gun violence in the United States.” Tens of millions of Americans share this sentiment.

Biden offered just such sensible proposals, including: a ban on assault weapons — semi-automatic rifles designed as weapons of war — like the one that was in effect from 1994  to 2004; raising the age to purchase such weapons from 18 to 21 if Congress refuses to ban them; a limit on the number of bullets in guns; expanded background checks covering all gun purchases; and red flag laws to allow judges to authorize law enforcement to temporarily take guns away from people who pose a risk to themselves or others.

U.S. President Joe Biden walks to the podium to deliver remarks on the recent mass shootings from the White House on June 02, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

The president also proposed: requiring gun owners to safely store their weapons, to keep them out of the hands of children and others not authorized to own guns; repealing immunity from liability for manufacturers of guns used in shootings; and strengthening the mental health system to identify potential shooters and provide them with compassionate treatment. 

I would like to say I expect Republican elected officials to put the lives of the American people ahead of their fanatical devotion to the gun industry, but I would be lying if I said that. Each time we have a mass shooting and the nation’s attention is focused on senseless gun deaths, we hear ritualistic calls for “thought and prayers” from many of our public officials, but later they oppose doing anything that would stop future killings.

Personally, I know the power of prayer and pray all the time. But prayer alone isn’t enough. Americans didn’t just pray to end slavery and Jim Crow segregation, even though the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and many leaders of the civil rights movement were members of the clergy. 

An earlier generation didn’t just pray to stop the Nazis from conquering the world, they fought a war. And most recently, our leaders (first former President Donald Trump and then President Biden) didn’t just pray for protection from COVID, they developed and delivered a vaccine in record time.

Just as Republicans and Democrats united to take action when faced with these and many other crises throughout American history, we need to unite to reduce the horrible death toll of gun violence in our nation.

Demonstrators take part in a rally against gun violence on March 21, 2013 in the Harlem neighborhood of the Manhattan borough of New York City. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Can we prevent all gun deaths? Unfortunately, no. But some of the measures President Biden has proposed enjoy wide support from the general public and can save many lives. 

Meanwhile, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee passed a bill Thursday called the Protecting Our Kids Act that can at least serve as the basis for a negotiated compromise between the parties.

But if some lawmakers persist in their slavish devotion to the gun lobby, the most effective action the rest of us can take is to remember in November and vote for candidates who will enact common-sense gun safety laws now. 

The country desperately needs all of our public officials and others to work together to keep us alive and protect our communities from more gun violence.


Donna Brazile Headshot thegrio.com
(Credit: Courtesy)

Donna Brazile is an ABC News Contributor, veteran political strategist, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, and the King Endowed Chair in Public Policy at Howard University. She previously served as interim Chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and of the DNC’s Voting Rights Institute. She managed the Gore campaign in 2000 and has lectured at more than 225 colleges and universities on race, diversity, women, leadership and restoring civility in politics. Brazile is the author of several books, including the New York Times’ bestseller “Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House.” @DonnaBrazile

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