Commentary: Bring the Gun Control Debate to Chicago, Too

How to get the guns off the streets isn’t a discussion that needs to happen just in Aurora, Colorado. It’s also extremely relevant to dozens of Black communities.

Posted: 07/27/2012 01:42 PM EDT

The rash of killings taking place in Chicago lately has become the stuff of nightmares. Last month, not more than a week after four people, including two teenage boys, were shot and killed in one weekend in the Windy City, a seven-year-old girl, Heaven Sutton, was killed when a stray bullet hit her in the back. At the time of Sutton’s murder late last month, there had been just over 250 murders in Chicago since the start of the year. This week, only about four weeks later, the murder count is now at 294. In July alone, 47 Chicago residents have been killed, and the month’s not over yet.


As of July 27, 300 people have been murdered, according to RedEyeChicago.com, which is compiling the data.

Exacerbating the fact that Chicago has become a veritable war zone is the fact that much of this violence is the Black-on-Black crime African-Americans have struggled with for decades now. Despite only making up about one-third of the city, Chicago Blacks accounted for nearly 80 percent of all homicide victims. More specifically, in the first six months of 2012, of the 259 people killed in Chicago, 201 were Black.

Hearing about the brutal gun violence that continues to plague Chicago is always horrifying, but this week it’s interesting to consider what’s happening there versus what just happened in Aurora, Colorado. In that incident, as you surely know by now, suspected gunman James Holmes stormed a movie theater with an assault rifle, tear gas and body armor, and shot into a crowd of people gathered for the new Batman movie. Holmes killed 12 people, and dozens more were wounded. In the immediate aftermath of the Holmes shooting, there was an outcry from pundits and other citizens who feel that it’s more important than ever to get guns off our streets. I agree with these people, but before Holmes was ever a threat, Chicago was a bloodbath. Why did everyone wait until now to say the guns have gotten out of control?

When gun-control advocates are heard most is always following a major shooting in a suburban town like Aurora or Littleton, Colorado, home of Columbine High School. Those were indeed tragedies that deserve national attention and outrage about how easy it is to arm oneself in America. That said, in urban communities around the United States, the death tolls continue to skyrocket higher and higher every day. Let’s also consider those victims in our debates about gun control. If we don’t, it seems as if we think they’re a lost cause.

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

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