Charlotte and Harriet Childress, who say they are “researchers and consultants on social and political issues,” promote that theory in their recent Washington Post op-ed , but the piece would indicate their research has little more depth than a layer of skin. Which is probably as deep as they thought they needed to go as they cater to the whims of a fickle society bent on the politically correct destruction of their supposedly omni-powerful majority; a group that is quickly coming to be judged as much on their skin color (and gender) as the minorities their direct descendants (and yes, some among them) have oppressed.
The article rightfully claims, “Nearly all of the mass shootings in this country in recent years — not just Newtown, Aurora, Fort Hood, Tucson and Columbine — have been committed by white men and boys.” That would make a decent case for what the authors propose is an elephant in the room — white males’ place in formulating a solution to mass firearm violence — if the article didn’t spend the entire time ignoring the very elephant in the room its initial claims produce.
It’s true, white men have committed most of the mass shootings in America’s recent history; 68% of those taking place between 1982 and Newtown, but white men also make up more than 80% of the male population in America. Which means, they’re committing mass firearm violence at a lesser rate than they exist; something that can be said for only one other male demographic and it’s not the “African American men and boys” the Childress duo use to tug at our heart-strings in their op-ed’s opening.
During the same time frame, African-American males have committed 15% of mass shootings while making up only 12.5% of the overall male population. By mass shooting standards they’re the second most violent male demographic as a percentage of population there is; trumped by only one other, and probably not the one you might think.
If we really want a male demographic at which to wag our proverbial finger we have to look to Asian men, who have committed mass shootings at more than twice the rate at which they appear in the overall male population. A mere 10% of the total shootings, sure, but when you consider Asian males make up less than 5% of the United States’ male population it’s no statistic at which to thumb your nose.
The least violent — at least by these standards — male demographic? Latinos/Hispanics, having been responsible for less than one-third of their “fair” share of the country’s more than sixty mass shootings in forty years. They make up a respectable 16% of the population*, but have committed only 5% of the instances of mass firearm violence.
What can we learn about all this? Asian men are potentially more mentally unstable than other men? Hispanic men deserve a pass at public school security check points? Native American men are rather accurate in their participation by the numbers? They account for just over 1% of both mass shootings and the male population, after all.
How about this? Of all the men in the United States, regardless of their skin color, less than four one hundred thousandths of a percent of them have committed mass gun violence in the past forty years.
If you’re wondering what that looks like by the numbers, it looks like this: 0.00004%
And once we’re done with that, how about this: we can’t reduce violence or mental instability or, and this last one is most important, the validity of ideas to the skin color of their beholder, their perpetrator.
No, let me rephrase that. We can reduce violence and mental instability and the validity of ideas to the skin color of their beholder, of their perpetrator, but we’ve done that already. We know where it got us in history and it hasn’t been any place good. So at the very least we shouldn’t.
Four one hundredths of a thousandths of a percent. Which means, virtually all of our men, regardless of their skin color, are not going to commit mass shootings. Which means that virtually all of our men, regardless of their skin color, have a place in the formulation of a solution to a problem for which a minuscule number of them are responsible.
Charlotte and Harriet Childress could have found the answers to most of their apparently rhetorical questions in a high school level statistics class — why are so many white men and boys involved in any given part of gun culture? For starters, because compared to other male demographics there are a hell of a lot of white men and boys — but that would have, no doubt, interfered with the time they spend drawing false conclusions and trying to get you to do the same. “If Americans ask the right questions on gun issues,” they won’t be questions built on a foundation of half-truths and the answers they find won’t be ones dependent on breaking the majority down to minority level.
We’ve done this before, America. We’re better than it now.
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*Hispanic” is not considered an ethnicity for census purposes, but “Latino” is considered a demographic all its own for the recording of mass shootings, providing further evidence that depending on statistics to determine the validity of a group or person’s ideas for any given solution is dubious at best.
** Two of the sixty-two mass shootings were omitted for the calculation of these statistics. One was committed by a white female the other by a male of “unknown” ethnicity.
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