Jenny Irons
Jenny Irons

In an opinion piece on the USA Today website, Associate Professor of Sociology Jenny Irons focused on two of the most significant predictors of gun deaths, income inequality and the percentage of the population identified as black. “But for the Grace of Class and Race,” posted on the publication’s site on Sept. 30, emphasized the necessity of reforming gun control legislation to stop gun violence in the United States.

Irons expanded the conversation beyond legislation as a solution. “While media and authorities speculate about the motives of the Naval Yard shooter, and while some politicians call for gun legislation reform, we should look more deeply into the roll race and class play in gun violence in the United States. While rampages like the ones in Newtown and the Naval Yard are unpredictable, the landscape of gun violence is not.”

She pointed out that “Rampage shootings draw throngs of reporters and undivided attention, and for good reason. … Yet, when child after child is lost to gun violence in poor urban neighborhoods, which are often occupied mostly by brown and black people, our nation should also respond with the same kind of collective grief and anger. The murders of one-year-old black girls or sixteen-year-old black males are not just problems in “those” communities; they, too, are part of a national tragedy, and they are far more likely to happen than are mass school shootings.”

She concluded by pointing not only to gun control legislation as a solution to the violence. “We also have to address the deep and tangled social roots of violence: residential segregation, inadequate educational and employment opportunities, the culture of violence, and racism. We also have to engage in moral reform. We have to broaden our collective understanding of what bodies matter in this battle. We must grieve those who are killed on inner-city streets just as we grieve those are killed in rampage shootings.”

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