NAACP Leaders Respond to the President Barack Obama’s Plan to End Gun Violence

NAACP Leadership released the following statement in response to President Barack Obama’s position on curbing gun violence:

Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP:
“The President has taken the critical first steps to address the gun violence epidemic that so many in the government have shied away from for too long,” said Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP. “We appreciate his commitment and his courage in helping lead the nation toward ending the senseless killing of children and other Americans– both at schools and in the streets.”

“The NAACP is appreciative of the increased resources to improve safety planning, provide equipment, and create accessibility to mental health services.  We urge the President and Attorney General to do  what they can to increase community-oriented police officers near schools.  However, from Columbine to Chicago, we have learned the hard way that undertrained and under-regulated police officers in schools give a false sense of security at best and unnecessarily criminalize children at worst.”

Jealous continued, “As we saw in a Taft, CA, classroom last week when a teacher and administrator persuaded a student with a gun from shooting any more of his classmates, caring, well-trained professionals and a strong school culture can create a climate  in which even a nightmare that is underway can be stopped.” 

Hilary Shelton, Senior Vice President of Advocacy and Policy & Director of the NAACP Washington Bureau:
“We commend the White House Task Force for demonstrating courageous leadership in recommending a sane, sensible, and comprehensive set of proposals to address gun violence throughout our country. These are policy recommendations that the NAACP and other leading organizations have supported for some time. The leading cause of death among African American teens ages 15 to 19 in 2008 and 2009 was gun related homicide.  African American children and teens accounted for 45 percent of all child and teen gun deaths in 2008 and 2009 but were only 15 percent of the total child population.  Black males ages 15-19 were eight times as likely as White males of the same age and two-and-a-half times as likely as their Hispanic peers to be killed in gun related homicides in 2009.”
In addition to very high profile and tragic incidents in the communities of Newtown, Columbine, Aurora and Blacksburg, gun violence has continued to be especially horrific in urban and distressed communities and communities of color. 

Current estimates show that there are 270 million guns held by civilians in the United States today.  That means there are almost 90 firearms for every 100 men, women and children in the U.S. today. Given these figures, as well as the disproportionate destruction gun violence is having on communities of color, the NAACP has advocated for bans on military style assault weapons, universal background checks, high capacity bullet clips, increased security measures and technology in areas surrounding schools, and mental health measures in order to eliminate the damage caused by gun violence.

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