On Thursday night, 15-year-0ld Zaevion Dobson was murdered in Knoxville, Tennessee. The murder was both senseless and banal as most shooting deaths are. Earlier in the evening another woman had been shot and wounded in an apparent gang-related attack. Her son and a friend drove to the neighborhood where they believed the attacker(s) lived and carried out some random shootings. Dobson was sitting on front porch of his home with a group of friends when the shooters rolled up; Dobson stood between the shooters and his friends when the shooters opened fire. He was killed but his friends were able to escape. Two men have been arrested, one of them, a convicted felon, has been charged with the murder.
The story has two points. First, it underscores the different nature of gun deaths in predominantly black communities and white communities. The Washington Post ran a story headlined The shocking difference in how blacks and whites are killed by guns the day after Dobson was murdered. He wasn’t mentioned in the story but he would have been an apt metaphor for the point the story made:
The gun control debate often plays out in monolithic fashion in this country. The traditional understanding is that there’s one overarching problem — gun violence — that can be addressed by a more or less uniform set of solutions: better background checks, improved technology, etc.
This approach makes a lot of sense. Many researchers argue that we should treat gun violence as just as much of a public health issue as a criminal justice one. That is, after all, the way we successfully reduced deaths from things like automobile accidents, cigarettes and the like.
But one shortcoming of this approach is that it elides over the sometimes drastic differences in how different populations experience gun violence and gun ownership in their lives. The Brookings Institution’s Richard Reeves highlighted one stunning example of this in a recent blog post: Among whites, 77 percent of gun deaths are suicides. But among black Americans, 82 percent of gun deaths are homicides.
This leads to the finding that the biggest worry white parents have about their children is that they will suffer from depression. The major worry black parents express is that their child will be shot. Not only was Dobson a metaphor but so was his killer: a convicted felon who could not legally possess a firearm.
About 41 percent of white households own guns, compared to just 19 percent of black households, according to a 2014 Pew survey.
Which leads to:
…Whites (61 percent) are nearly twice as likely as blacks (34 percent) to say it’s more important to protect gun rights than to control gun ownership…
All of this is tragic, but no tragedy is quite complete with Barack Obama trying to cynically use the deaths of innocents to accomplish some political purpose:
Zaevion Dobson died saving three friends from getting shot. He was a hero at 15. What's our excuse for not acting? https://t.co/hn98uGsjKZ
— President Obama (@POTUS) December 20, 2015
This is just sad and pathetic. At the current pace, Obama’s hometown of Chicago will have had nearly 4,000 murders
during his Reign of Terror while he was president. The number of times he’s visited Chicago to hold a rally against gang violence and street crime — which is the driver in Chicago’s body count — is zero.
Since Obama has been in office he has devoted no energy to and shown no interest in the many and manifest social problems afflicting America’s cities. His crony, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, has shown less interest than Obama. What Obama has done, though, is drive race relations to a twenty year low and has set those communities most in need of effective policing at war with their police departments. He’s demanding action after Dobson’s murder but to what end? The action this pathetic little man in demanding is aimed at creating controversy and division, not at resolving problems or preventing tragedies. And that will be his legacy.