My heart goes out to the family of Nykea Aldridge, who was killed this weekend in Chicago by what police said was an errant bullet intended for someone else. It goes out, too, to the families of the other 10 people fatally shot in Chicago this weekend alone — each of them leaving behind loved ones just as Aldridge, and my own 17-year-old son Jordan Davis, did.
Aldridge was killed pushing a stroller on Chicago’s South Side. Jordan was fatally shot by an angry man who didn’t like his loud music. While the settings vary, each day in this country, far too many families like ours are experiencing the pain of a loved one killed by gun violence.
After Aldridge was killed, Donald Trump tweeted: “Dwyane Wade’s cousin was just shot and killed walking her baby in Chicago. Just what I have been saying. African-Americans will VOTE TRUMP!”
I had to read that tweet a few times for it to sink in. Donald Trump has proudly accepted the gun lobby’s endorsements and voiced support for its dangerous agenda. It’s the reckless ideas put forward by the NRA’s leadership, and pushed through by fearful legislators, that have allowed systemic gun violence to expand, wreaking havoc on communities of color for decades. How does Trump think that he can win the black vote as he supports policies that make our cities more dangerous?
Chicago, my hometown, offers a good illustration of why Trump is so wrong.
Chicago is home to hundreds of homicides every year, the vast majority of them by guns. Defenders of the gun lobby, including Trump, have used this fact to argue against Illinois’ strong gun laws, saying they’re clearly ineffective — but they’re wrong. While law enforcement officers are working hard in Illinois to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, they face a nearly impossible task because of weak gun laws in surrounding states.
Between 2009 and 2013, nearly 60 percent of guns recovered at Chicago scenes were first purchased in other states, according to the Chicago mayor’s office. Many of these states do not require background checks, including Indiana — home to Trump’s vice presidential pick, Mike Pence — which was the leading out-of-state source for guns used in Chicago crimes.
As a June report by Everytown for Gun Safety and the National Urban League documents, there are some local programs that are reducing gun violence on neighborhood-by-neighborhood levels. But ask anyone involved, and they’ll tell you: The list of challenges they’re up against is long.
In this country, 32 states — including Indiana, which borders the city of Chicago — have what’s called a “private sale loophole” in which criminals and other dangerous people can obtain guns online or at gun shows, without a background check, no questions asked. Across the U.S., these states contribute a disproportionate share of the guns traced from crime scenes to a sale in another state.
Chicago police see the effects of this every day. Background checks will never stop every criminal from getting their hands on a gun and every single act of gun violence — but the evidence is clear that it’s the single most effective policy to help keep guns out of dangerous hands and save lives.
It’s Hillary Clinton who supports evidence-based policies like comprehensive background checks, while Donald Trump spouts the NRA leadership’s vision of a country with guns everywhere, for anyone — no questions asked. And that vision for America would continue to flood cities like Chicago with even more guns and put even more innocent lives on the line — like those who are playing in parks or walking down the street.
Donald Trump is correct when he suggests that African-Americans are outraged by gun violence. Black Americans make up 14 percent of Americans, and yet are the victims of half of gun homicides. There’s no doubt that many of us will be voting in November with that devastating figure in mind.
But when I step into the ballot booth, I’ll be voting for a candidate who refuses to accept the status quo when it comes to gun violence, someone who will stand up to the gun lobby, and someone who will support common-sense measures that will save lives from gun violence. Her name isn’t Donald Trump.
Lucy McBath is the mother of Jordan Davis, who was shot and killed at a gas station in Jacksonville, Florida, on November 23, 2012, during an argument over loud music. She is currently the faith and outreach leader for Everytown for Gun Safety and a member of the Everytown Survivor Network.