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Supreme Court’s handgun ruling is just another blow to black folks

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The The NRA and the Supreme Court couldn't care less about the 30,000 Americans who die each year from gun violence.

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Chicago’s handgun ban, but the ruling is not limited to the Windy City. This ruling makes it unconstitutional for all state and local and governments to restrict the right of Americans to own guns -- inside the home.

Chicago will likely now go the way of D.C., when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down its handgun ban in 2008. Following that court decision, Washington D.C. enacted several sweeping restrictions, regulating assault weapons, storage and license. The courts have upheld all those laws. In Chicago, a city that has been shaken to its core by recent spates of gun violence, hopefully there will not be any immediate ramifications.

“Chicago’s current handgun ban is unenforceable, so we are working to rewrite our ordinance in a reasonable, responsible way to protect Second Amendment rights and to protect Chicagoans from gun violence,” said Mayor Richard Daley at a news conference.

The problem here is that the U.S. Supreme Court really did not pass judgment on the real issue that is leading to handgun deaths around the country. The only thing that will put a dent in the surging rates of homicides by shooting in this country is federal handgun legislation. And that’s something that very few politicians have the political courage to address.

“If you want to save young black men’s lives, you need stronger federal laws that stop gun trafficking and that’s what we don’t have in this country.... That’s what we need to do legislatively, “ said Ladd Everitt, Communications Director for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. “The guys that really love guns in this country call their elected representatives all day, they are passionate and they don’t give up. They are making their case 24/7. Until we can match that intensity, why would even a Democrat listen to us?...... We have the numbers, but what we don’t have the passion.”

The core issue when looking at the firearm crisis in this country is the fact that local municipalities and states really can only do so much when it comes to getting guns off their streets. Police departments can actually do even less. The real issue is interstate gun trafficking. For instance, Boston has one of the most restrictive handgun laws in the nation, but 60 pecent of the recovered illegal handguns come from outside the state of Massachusets.

There are 10 states, in particular, that have scarcely adopted any of the handgun restrictions such as requiring a background check or time restrictions: West Virginia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Kentucky, Alabama, Virginia, Georgia, Indiana, Nevada, and North Carolina. It’s no coincidence that many of those states are the top handgun exporting states. Other states are on the top handgun exporting list as well such as Texas, California, Pennsylvania and Florida, according to a report by Mayors Against Gun Violence. In 2007, more than half the guns recovered at crime scenes that crossed state lines came from the 10 top handgun exporting states. The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms recovered 52,450 handguns at crime scenes that had crossed state lines.

Yet, comprehensive handgun legislation remains one of the most politically taboo issues you could imagine, not even a black President or a Democratic Congress dares touch it. Consequently, young black males, and increasingly females, continue to die due to gun violence.

Despite the high-profile news stories of Columbine High School and the shooting at Virginia Tech -- which have actually done more to mobilize the anti-gun violence coalition than the images of young black and Latino men dying daily on the evening news -- the fact is it is still largely an urban problem. It is not necessarily a black or brown problem but it is clearly and urban issue in nature.

Sixty-six percent of all murders are committed with guns. Roughly 73 percent of female murder victims are killed in the home, while 45 percent of men are killed in the home. Twenty-six percent of men are killed on the street. Almost 40 percent of homicides were related to an argument or conflict, one third were precipitated by another crime, and 20 percent were domestic violence related. Of the homicides precipitated by another crime, in most cases the crime was in progress at the time of the incident. Thirty-seven percent were precipitated by a robbery; 23 percent by an assault, according to the Brady Campaign.

Gun related violence is pervasive in urban areas, often the victims and/or perpetrators are juveniles and young adults. In 2005, the homicide rate in metro areas was 6.1 per 100,000 compared with 3.5 in non-metropolitan counties. In U.S. cities with more than 250,000, the mean homicide rate was 12.1 per 100,000.

But despite these dim facts, despite the fact that most Americans actually favor more restrictive handgun laws, we, as a nation, are still trapped into political submission by the NRA and gun rights advocates, whose numbers are miniscule in comparison.

The National Rifle Association hailed Monday's ruling, saying it "marks a great moment in American history." They say this Supreme Court Decision "is a vindication for the great majority of American citizens who have always believed the Second Amendment was an individual right and freedom worth defending."

Each year, about there are about 30,000 handgun deaths in the U.S., that includes 12,000 murders. And in the U.S. there are an estimated 200 million guns in circulation.

The Washington-based Violence Policy Center (VPC) stated, matter-of-fact: "People will die because of this decision."

I have to agree. And you know what, many of those people are likely going to be black.

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