The headlines in the case were sadly familiar. An angry adult armed with a gun used it to shoot and kill an unarmed black teenager he thought seemed "bad" -- this time, because the teenager and his friends were sitting in a car listening to music the grownup didn't like. In this outrageous Florida case, a middle-aged white man, Michael Dunn, was convicted of three counts of attempted murder and one count of shooting a gun into an occupied car. Jurors agreed he faced no threat after he was annoyed by loud music -- coming from a car he had deliberately chosen to park next to -- and then started an argument, pulled a gun on the car's black teens, and fired three shots at the young men inside the car as they tried to drive away from him.
The United States Senate's failure to pass common sense gun safety measures -- the Manchin-Toomey Amendment to expand background checks to keep guns away from underage or dangerous people, and amendments to ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines designed only to kill as many human beings as possible -- is a moral failure of great magnitude. Once again the safety of children has been sacrificed by political leaders in service to the gun lobby. As Americans do we value guns more than the lives of children? Do we really want to continue to have political leaders who kowtow to the threats and money and half-truths of the gun lobby and who think their political jobs are more important than the right of children to live and learn and grow up in safety?
While there are troubling undertones of racial suspicion and fear in Trayvon Martin's killing which must be addressed as justice is sought, the fact is that most Black young people murdered by guns are killed by Black shooters -- just as most White children and teens murdered by guns are killed by White shooters. Sadly the tragedies of Tucson, Aurora, Newtown and elsewhere made clear that none of us are safe anywhere or immune to the pervasive threat of gun violence. We are all in the same boat and must act together to stop the plague of violence. Gun safety laws that only apply in one city or state can't fully stop our national epidemic of gun proliferation and violence any better than we can stop a flu epidemic by vaccinating one family.