by Ron Porter
Pittsburgh, consistent with urban centers across the nation, is enduring persistent gun murder among African American youth. Gun violence is epidemic in our neighborhoods, including attempted mass murder on the doorsteps of a church.
From coast to coast, murderous threads knot around the necks of Black children and chokes them into a lifeless eternity. One end of the choking thread is regrettably in the hands of Black children. The other end is held by White gun manufacturers and politicians who boldly incentivize firearms production and expansion. The linked threads of economic deprivation, educational failure and social destabilization snakes through the streets, avenues, and alleys of our neighborhoods, strangling vulnerable youth with life ending suddenness.
Cutting the deadly threads is hellishly difficult. The NRA and their acolytes score billions of dollars by making and selling guns. There is an expansive and illegal secondary market for guns and there is no evidence the trajectory that has more guns than people in the United States is going to slow down.
A perverse economic circle exists. Most guns are made in locations far from U.S. urban centers and initially sold legally. Gun sales produce huge profits which are decidedly not benefiting urban communities. The National Rifle Association (NRA) spends millions supporting politicians who hype their belief that urban gun violence will spread to their (reasonably) safe havens. In turn, more people buy guns, and the circle keeps spinning.
The perversity of the circular economics that creates a pathway for guns to end up in the hands of poor children is mind-bendingly obvious. Guns are not being manufactured in Homewood, Northside, or the Hill District. Yet, guns are trafficked along a smooth, paved highway with drive-in efficiency akin to McDonald’s. Many children are choosing to “have it their way,” with shallow understanding of how they are being exploited. The “drive-in” precedes the “drive-by”.
There is no quick fix for urban gun violence. Sadly, many Black kids move toward adulthood attending far more funerals than birthday parties. As mentioned above, even funerals are not immune to retributive (and indiscriminate) gun violence.
As an African American senior male, I am flooded with fear, anxiety, anger, and frustration as I face the reality my two sons, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren may live for decades in communities where gun profits supersede safety.
Second amendment dogmatists will not be swayed by arguments that disrupt the profitable supply chain that endlessly bloodies our streets. But, if our kids know where the McDonald’s style gun purchase can be made, we can block the driveways.
Children are the future, and they hold the keys to a better tomorrow. Adults must guide them to recognizing the sickness they are being encouraged to virulently spread. The benefits of Black children murdering one another do not lie within our communities. There are smiling faces counting dollars, and it ain’t us!
(Ron Porter is a consultant, writer and speaker based in Pittsburgh, PA. Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org)