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Since 1991, the national homicide rate has declined by 47%. The African-American homicide rate also declined but remains more than six times the non-African-American rate. Today, more than half of all homicides are inflicted on and by 14% of the population. Guns cannot be the underlying problem because there are many more guns in the non-African-American population and the African-American homicide rate without guns is three times the non-African-American homicide rate with guns. Just blaming guns is a cowardly non-solution that dismisses the real needs of our African-American citizens. We could save more than 5,000 African-American lives every year, half of all homicides, if we could just get the African-American homicide rate down to the non-African-American rate.
We can start the process by acknowledging that the majority of all homicides are initiated by arguments. We have a higher prevalence of African-American males raised without a generational history of guidance, love, and discipline from fathers. Many of these males become trapped in generational poverty without the opportunity to earn self-respect and cannot tolerate disrespect. Intolerance for disrespect causes hateful retribution and violence. Whether gang related or not, this is what disproportionally terrorizes African-American communities.
The underlying reason for all of this is that too many otherwise intelligent people are perpetuating economic poverty by confusing it with the deprivation that it causes. As in Lyndon Johnson’s misdirected “War On Poverty”, appeasement and electioneering result in shortcut feel good legislation that attempts to reduce only deprivation. A classic example is the FHA 235 program of the 1960’s where the only permanent results are the green spaces in the old ethnic neighborhoods. Confusing economic poverty with deprivation perpetuates economic poverty and constrains millions into embarrassing dependency on government charity.
Many young males grow up without positive male role models and without educated parental support. Some young male children are born to children who do not have the capability to discipline, educate, and instill respect. Some really unlucky young males with drug-addicted parents are left to fend for themselves on the streets like feral cats. These young men become trapped in a degenerate, brutal, and violent culture dominanted by an illegal drug distribution economy. This culture follows the law of the jungle and teaches that life is a zero sum game, authority is to be disrespected, and that any personal disrespect requires ultimate retribution. This culture can overwhelm the ability to educate.
Without positive motivation and education, these young men are not empowered to create value for themselves or for others. This is the true definition of poverty. To live in a civilized economic society, we all have the right and the obligation to be empowered to create value. To be empowered to create value you must have motivation, knowledge, enterprises, health, and security. Most of the existing government programs and large noncompetitive school systems benefit mostly the administrations and unions and fail to empower those who are most at risk. As a result, too many young males believe that gangs, drug trafficking, and robbery are their only options.
During the first years of the Great Depression, in 1930 and 1931, my Dad would pack a disassembled single shot twelve gauge shotgun in a canvas sack along with provisions for a weekend of hunting and put them in his high school locker on Friday mornings. After school he would catch a ride on a milk delivery truck that would take him out to a farm where he would hunt on Saturday and early Sunday before hitching a ride back home. The rabbits and squirrels he brought home provided most of the meat that his family would have during the week. Times were tough but we did not yet have a degenerative culture in our midst.
In 1960 and 1961, I competed in the National Matches at Camp Perry. I was 16 and 17 years old in those years. Along with a suitcase of clothes, I carried my Ruger Mark I 22 and my National Match Colt 45 in a pistol case on a Greyhound bus from Cleveland to Camp Perry and back. To me and to everyone else, this was perfectly normal. We did not have a degenerative culture in our midst and did not have a national media that amplified every misuse of firearms.
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