BALTIMORE, MD – NAACP National President and CEO Cornell William Brooks today released the following statement regarding President Obama’s proposed executive actions to reduce gun violence:
“More than 4 million people in our country were victims of crimes involving a gun over the last 10 years. More than 30,000 people continue to die each year in the U.S. as a result of firearms – more than in any other nation. More than 20,000 of our children were killed by guns over the last decade; and, more than 20,000 Americans commit suicide with a firearm every year. The numbers are startling and whether by suicide, criminals, domestic violence, by accident or by law enforcement, each death is a senseless tragedy that rarely draws headlines, but devastates families and communities.
“The NAACP supports every reasonable effort to prevent gun violence against every segment of our population: our brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, children, and our police officers – especially in our most populated cities and among communities of color. Eighteen in 100,000 African-Americans are likely to die by a firearm, more than twice the rate of whites.
“Easy access to illegal guns on the streets of our large, urban areas is at the heart of gun violence in our communities. Additional ATF agents to enforce gun laws, more stringent background checks, and stricter licensing for gun dealers will not eliminate the devastation caused by gun violence, but is a solid, sure-footed step down the path to making our communities, our neighbors, and our police safer.
“Additionally, in nearly two-thirds of the cases of gun deaths, the death is by the victim’s own hand, and often with weapons legally obtained. Proposing millions more in mental health treatment and background checks that would halt purchases by people already disqualified because of mental illness, would go a long way to help curb the often final, desperate action of someone suffering from mental illness.
“President Obama’s executive actions are an affirmative effort to halt the deaths of our children, relatives, police officers and innocent bystanders. While the President’s actions can help, we must continue to demand sound policies that address the societal issues that often accompany and contribute to gun violence: education, poverty, homelessness and unemployment.
“It is our mission and our responsibility as the nation’s oldest civil rights organization to encourage and educate every single person on the importance of the individual right to vote. It is the power of our vote that will ensure we elect individuals committed to improving policing and the criminal justice system, to eliminating education and economic inequality, and to reducing the numbers of lives lost to gun violence. True, prompt, and courageous action from elected officials committed to saving lives rather than protecting a single industry is the only true solution – a solution that starts in the voting booth.”
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities. You can read more about the NAACP’s work and our six “Game Changer” issue areas here.