Black Lives and Gun Violence

June 20, 2015 | Huffington Post |

Black lives matter. They matter whether they are taken at the hands of a hate-filled 21-year-old in a church prayer meeting, by a police officer who shoots a suspect he fears is armed or in a drive-by shooting on Chicago's south side.

Thirty two people are murdered by guns every day in the United States. African-Americans represent 57 percent of the victims, despite the fact they account for only 13 percent of the overall U.S. population. Homicide is the leading cause of death for Black males aged 15-34. These lives matter.

The Black Lives Matter movement has galvanized public outrage over the recent police shootings of unarmed Black men and boys in Ferguson, North Charleston, and Cleveland -- to name just a few. Regarding these shootings as state-sanctioned violence, the Black Lives Matter movement rightly calls for changes in the use of force by police against citizens of color.

The nation should also be outraged by the Black lives lost every day to gun violence in cities large and small, and the role that our weak gun laws play in facilitating those deaths. Indeed, the policy choices our elected officials make to keep those laws weak are best understood as another form of state-sanctioned violence.

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