The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) Chairman Dorothy R. Leavell said that the issue of gun control escapes vigorous debate when the perpetrators of mass shooters are White males. The leader of the association, comprised of more than 200 Black-owned publications, also noted that cries for reform gain the most traction when highlighting incidents of urban violence involving African-American youth.
The NNPA chairman made her remarks in the wake of the horrific, mass shooting during a music festival in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 1. According to authorities, Stephen Paddock, 64, fired upon the 22,000 concertgoers from his hotel room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Police said that Paddock was armed with 23 different firearms, including AR-15 assault rifles. The arsenal may have been amassed in Nevada, a state that has some of the most permissive gun control laws in the nation.
“I join the nation in mourning the tragic loss of life in what we now know is one of the largest mass shooting events in U.S. history, “Leavell said. “As the nation grapples with this latest act of domestic terrorism and investigators seek answers, one thing is certain: Easy access to military-grade weapons and ammunition undoubtedly makes it easier for those who would engage in these acts to carry out their crimes.
“What is troubling in this latest round of national discourse is that when there are high-profile incidents involving so-called ‘Black-on-Black’ violence, the cries for gun control ring loud and clear. Yet, when White males are accused of domestic terrorism, suddenly gun control is a forbidden subject.”
Leavell continued: “Those who demand reform are singled out by gun proponents for reportedly politicizing the issue. How many lives must be lost before our nation takes an aggressive look on why we need to sell such weapons to its citizens? I can only ask, what might have happened had not disturbed individuals been able to get their hands on the weapons used in Charleston or Sandy Hook?”
Leavell said that too many lives have been lost, because of the legal and illegal access to weapons that should be reserved for military combat.
Leavell concluded: “When people of color engage in gun violence, there is no debate about stopping the flow of guns in urban and impoverished neighborhoods, but when perpetrators are White and affluent, as it is alleged with Paddock, suddenly the conversation is about anything but gun control. This is a glaring double standard that we can’t ignore.”