In the weeks since the Washington Navy Yard shooting, the city of New Orleans reached a tragic milestone.
All told, 108 people have been murdered in the Crescent City so far this year. In September two Black girls, one 11 years old and the other age 2, were shot and killed. And earlier this year a national organization advocating for stricter gun control told the story of a black 10-year-old New Orleans boy who has been shot and seriously injured twice in his short life.
Although the national spotlight has remained fixed on mass shootings in Washington, D.C.; Newtown, Conn.; and Aurora, Colo., as well as the gun violence coming out of Chicago, street crime and "ordinary" shootings that take one or two lives at a time are still disfiguring communities and putting Black children and teens in particular peril. For Black America the national gun debate is not about the shocking, but still relatively rare, mass shootings or the political gamesmanship that draws attention to the violence consuming President Barack Obama's adopted hometown. Cities riddled with gun violence, such as New Orleans, are also located in states with some of the nation's weakest gun laws. Those laws are costing children, particularly Black children, their lives, gun control advocates say.
Across the country in 2012, gun violence was the second-leading cause of death for American children ages 7 to 19, according to a July report released by the Children's Defense Fund. But it constituted the No. 1 cause of death for Black children and teens. Between 1963 and 2010, nearly 60,000 Black children and teenagers have been killed by guns. That means more than 17 times the number of Black children have been killed by guns than the total number of Black Americans lynched between 1862 and 1968, according to Caroline Fichtenberg, director of research at the CDF.