The Gun Control Debate Ignores Black Lives

Glenn Ellis

By Glenn Ellis

( – Students from across the country walked out of class on March 14, 2018, at 10 a.m. to protest gun violence and demand new legislation. The students left classes for 17 minutes to commemorate the 17 lives lost in the Parkland school shooting. Some even left for 18 minutes to acknowledge a young Black girl who was killed in an accidental shooting in Birmingham, Alabama.

There are “other” gun deaths that were not included in this social action: young Black males and homicide. In fact, the American gun debate rarely takes into account the number of Black youth who are murdered every day.

Deaths of Black men in the inner cities: These gun deaths don’t make the headlines. The country doesn’t come to a dead halt, wailing at the murder of innocents, demanding an end to gun violence. The NRA won’t appear on TV to suggest putting armed guards in inner city schools. There is no public outcry. It is the astonishing number of Black men killing other Black men. This is a true gun crisis in inner cities across our country. Two of every 5 deaths for young Black men are caused by homicide. In contrast, that rate is twice of Hispanic male deaths and 15 times the rate of white male homicides.

One report notes that gun violence is not only the second leading cause of death for American children, behind car accidents, but the leading cause of death for Black American children. Suicides by gunfire, on the other hand, made up the majority of gun deaths among white youth, accounting for an average of 644 every year.

Black children and teens are twice as likely to be killed by guns as by cars, the report notes, while white children and teens are nearly three times more likely to die in car accidents than because of gun violence. Black teenage males are especially at risk.

As of 2010, 45 percent of child gun deaths in the U.S. and 46 percent of gun injuries were among Black children and teens, although Black kids made up only 15 percent of all children and teens in the country.

In their Protect Children, Not Guns report, the Children’s Defense Fund reported on how national and state data on gun violence affects children and teens in America. According to the report, the children and teens killed by guns in 2008 and 2009, would fill more than 229 classroom of 25 students each!

To make matters worse, a stunning bit of data from Pew Research Center for People and the Press showed that some 80 percent of Blacks said that the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., raises important issues about race in America. Only 37 percent of whites said the same, with 47 percent saying that race was getting more attention that it deserves.

Americans are 10 times more likely to be killed by guns than people in other developed countries, a new study in The American Journal of Medicine found.

Even though it has half the population of the other 22 nations combined, the United States accounted for 82 percent of all gun deaths. The United States also accounted for 90 percent of all women killed by guns, the study found. Ninety-one percent of children under 14 who died by gun violence were in the United States. And 92 percent of young people between ages 15 and 24 killed by guns were in the United States. Compared to 22 other high-income nations, the United States’ gun-related murder rate is 25 times higher, and the nation’s gun-related suicide rate is eight times higher than other high-income countries.

There are no two ways about it, the United States is just a violent country, obsessed with guns!

Indeed, the “endemic” firearm violence in this country represents a “substantial, long-term cumulative health burden. If present trends continue, Americans can expect to lose 336,778 lives to guns between 2011 and 2020, they calculated.

No gun law is going to change anything at this point. We make it about the guns and we’re not worried about our kids. People should be focusing on why gun violence exists and trying to prevent it from occurring. Gun homicides in Japan are about as common as deaths from being struck by lightning in the United States. Gun homicides in Poland are about as common as deaths from bicycle riders being hit by cars in the United States.

By failing to talk about the majority of gun murder victims – young, Black men -politicians and advocates are missing the chance to save lives. The sad truth that is there is no political will in the country to address inner-city violence.

Remember, I’m not a doctor. I just sound like one. Take good care of yourself and live the best life possible! The information included in this column is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.


Glenn Ellis, is a Health Advocacy Communications Specialist. He is the author of Which Doctor?, and Information is the Best Medicine. A health columnist and radio commentator who lectures, nationally and internationally on health related topics, Ellis is an active media contributor on Health Equity and Medical Ethics. Listen to Glenn, every Saturday at 9:00am (EST) on, and Sundays at 8:30am (EST) on For more good health information, visit:


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