THE BLOG

Gun Violence Tipping Point

10/06/2010 12:17 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The brutal execution style murders in Boston last week should be a big wakeup call to everyone, especially elected officials in Congress and State legislatures.

For many years Boston and Massachusetts have been among the safest places to live and work in America. Until recently Massachusetts, with the most comprehensive gun laws and first in the nation consumer protection standards for guns, has enjoyed the lowest firearm fatality rate in the Country. Nonetheless, there are still 33 States, including Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont that don't even require criminal background checks or proof of ID to buy an unlimited number of firearms at gun shows and from "private" gun dealers. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has reported that two thirds of all guns used in crime in Massachusetts come primarily from these northern states and Georgia. The fact that urban industrial Massachusetts still has the 3rd lowest firearm fatality rate in the US, behind Hawaii and Rhode Island, is remarkable given the proximity to our neighboring states.

Decades of failed national gun policy allowing virtually unrestricted gun access without detection, combined with multiple generations of poverty, racism, family dysfunction, and lack of economic opportunity and jobs in our poorest neighborhoods, have resulted in the creation of a killer-class of young heavily armed criminals who have no positive influences, no hope and no fear of consequences-even death.

The Mattapan/Boston killings this week looked more like third world death squad assassinations than your typical gang and turf-related shootings. Sadly, that's more or less what the "Mattapan's, Dorchester's and Roxbury's" of America have become. While the majority of residents in these neighborhoods are law abiding and just want the best for their families, a small number of criminals are terrorizing these Communities.

Today and everyday there are an average of 80-90 gun deaths (30-40,000 gun deaths annually) in the US and approximately 80 percent are people of color, living and dying in a few poor urban neighborhoods in America where there are few jobs or economic opportunities. Yet, thanks to Congress and the lack of even a criminal background check requirement for all gun sales in the US, the one thing these communities have in abundance is easy and unrestricted access to guns.

As a Nation the consequences of our dangerous and irresponsible gun policies have disproportionately impacted minority communities but this too will change. From Mattapan to Mexico and Ireland to the Middle East, the US has been arming domestic criminals, drug cartels and international terrorists who have freely exploited our lax gun laws for years. Al Qaeda, Hezbollah and IRA terrorists have all been found to buy military style weapons at US gun shows without detection, only to get caught shipping them out of the Country. Further the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives reports that 90% of guns used by Mexican drug cartels are purchased from federally licensed gun dealers in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California and just 1% of licensed gun dealers are responsible for selling 57% of gun traced to crime in the US. Still Congress does nothing to hold these federally licensed dealers accountable and in recent years has incredibly put further restrictions on law enforcement from being able to regulate gun sales or even report where crime guns originate.

Absent a major shift in US gun policy, don't be surprised when we hit the next predicable tipping point as the small but extremely dangerous group of urban terrorists break out into the suburbs and start killing rich white people . Maybe then Congress and State legislatures will pay attention for more than a few days or weeks after each massacre, and they'll finally enact common sense national gun laws, like mandatory criminal background checks, aimed at disarming vs. arming criminals and terrorists.