A serious and substantial report on gun violence and minority communities has just been issued by the Joyce Foundation, the Urban Institute and The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, accompanied by a national survey conducted by the Benenson Strategy Group. Is there any crossover between the fact that Joel Benenson happens to be a leading consultant for Hillary who just happens to have made gun violence a central plank of her Presidential campaign?
This effort largely reflects meetings held with more than 100 members of minority communities in Stockton, CA, Milwaukee, WI and Richmond, VA, in an attempt to create a new strategy to deal with gun violence which, as the report points out, is the first and second leading cause of death respectively for Black and Hispanic males, ages 15-34.
Much of the discussions held with community representatives, along with a majority of the report’s content, deals with relations between minority residents and the police. And this should hardly surprise, given the fact that the types of gun violence examined in this report all happen to be crimes. Of the report’s four categories of recommendations, only one category – Improve Relations Between Police and Communities of Color – yielded more than two basic recommendations because, as the report says, “police must be viewed as a legitimate authority in the communities they serve.”
The Benenson survey casts some doubt on whether minorities believe that cops riding down their streets represent any legitimacy at all. Benenson found that a majority of Blacks and a third of Hispanics reported having a ‘negative interaction’ with law enforcement, although there still was overwhelming support for the idea that, on the whole, most cops were professionals with a few ‘rotten apples’ giving police a bad name.
In tandem with its publication was a public event at the National Press Club featuring an analysis of the survey by Joel Benenson, along with a roundtable discussion involving researchers and activists who contributed to the report. What I found most interesting about this discussion was the conviction on the part of all participants that successful implementation of the recommendations for reducing gun violence would require giving ‘everyone’ a seat at the table whenever new policies or programs would be discussed.
Which got me thinking: How come there was nobody at the National Press Club representing the folks who always have the most to say about gun violence, namely, the folks who represent the sector that is wholly and completely responsible for all gun violence, namely, the folks who make the guns? Because the truth is there would be no gun violence, not one, single, solitary gun injury if the gun industry hadn’t convinced Congress and the Supreme Court that guns were legal commerce and should be allowed in every home. And by the way, the Benenson survey discovered once again that even in minority neighborhoods that are racked by gun violence, a majority of residents believe they would be safer if they owned a gun.
Now just wait until the NRA-ILA gets its hands on that one! I can see the headline now: Hillary’s pollster admits that minorities need to own guns. What if this report had been authored, say, by the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation, funded by the Scaife Foundation which supports every cockamamie right-wing policy idea? The report would have denied the existence of gun violence, would have chastised minority communities for not keeping their kids under control, would have trotted out Detroit’s Police Chief who believes the most effective way to deal with gun violence is to make sure that every citizen is armed.
I believe there should be a seat at the table for everyone who needs to be present in a discussion about gun violence. But just understand that several of the chairs won’t be filled no matter how many invitations go out. And I’m still waiting for the report that explains how we are going to deal with that bunch.