Author notes. On Monday I published a piece titled, Just 10 minutes… In response to the publication a reader asked, “if we are to address gun violence as a health crisis what is the diagnosis?” Below is my attempt to answer that question.
The underlining diagnosis is historical racism: slavery, redlining/housing, war on drugs, wage discrimination, inadequate representation in the work place, education, and poverty just to name a few. These can’t be overlooked for a couple reasons: one, with regards to gun violence, black communities are most affected and most at risk. Second, there is much research that suggests gun violence more frequently happens in depressed communities (age of housing, extent of poverty, growth of per capita income, extent of unemployment, job lag, or surplus labor). Another way to look at gun violence is by way of environment. Are certain environments more susceptible to violence than others? The answer is yes. If you geolocate the Chicago police district beat 421 (in South Chicago) vs beat 1824 (Gold Coast) you’ll find your answer.
Making those points, I am duty bound to mention that Black folks are the only race of people to have been forced into slavery in mass by the United States government for 240+ years. 258,000 confederate soldiers died in an attempt to extend those years, too.
Post diagnosis and as we do every health crisis: identify it as a health crisis. Next step would be to allocate all resources possible to handling it. Community gardens and weekend trash clean ups are nice but they aren’t going to solve systemic racist practices that may lead to gun violence.
The US government’s response to COVID-19 is a good example of a holistic approach to a health crisis. Not only were dollars spent/given but the private sector joined the fight offering resources in abundance and increasing production also. I discuss these thoughts further in a piece I published in March of last year, Chicago Gun Violence — A Reflection.
The solutions I believe are simple. We need to invest with great force in the areas we know are most affected by gun violence. We have really helpful data that gives us an idea on who and why someone might use a gun to settle a dispute. We, as a society have been acting piecemeal for far too long. COVID-19, 9/11, and Iraq have proven that the financial resources are available. What we lack is moral and political courage and an ability to work together to make any meaningful progress. This has more…