On September 21, the Biden administration announced the “establishment of the first-ever White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention to reduce gun violence, which has ravaged communities across the country.”
While it is true that gun violence is ravaging communities across the country, particularly urban communities, it is naïve to believe that yet another federal government bureaucracy will solve this complicated problem.
It is also naïve to believe that “Banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines;” “Requiring safe storage of firearms;” “Requiring background checks for all gun sales;” and “Eliminating gun manufacturers’ immunity from liability,” which are the principal goals of Biden’s Office of Gun Violence Prevention, will result in significantly less gun violence.
As is the case all too often in Washington, DC, talking points are blurring the situation and obscuring what is actually happening.
Take Chicago, for example, which has some of the most potent gun control laws on the books, yet also has one of the worst gun violence problems in the nation.
In fact, Mayor Brandon Johnson and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle both attended the White House event on September 21, and both applauded the new office for addressing the “root cause” of the gun violence epidemic.
However, both are wrong because the Office of Gun Violence Prevention does absolutely nothing to address the real root cause of gun violence: the breakdown of the family unit.
In Chicago, and most other major urban centers for that matter, the breakdown of the family has reached crisis levels.
In 2020, the rate of out-of-wedlock births for black babies reached 82 percent and 57 percent for Hispanic babies, respectively, in Chicago. In that same year, Chicago recorded 769 murders and 4,033 shooting victims.
Commonsense and mountains of data tell us that boys growing up without a father at home are far more likely to drop out of school, join a gang, commit crimes (including murder) and end up in prison.
As the U.S. Department of Justice notes, “the most reliable indicator of violent crime in a community is the proportion of fatherless families. Fathers typically offer economic stability, a role model for boys, greater household security, and reduced stress for mothers. This is especially true for families with adolescent boys, the most crime-prone cohort. Children from single-parent families are more prone than children from two-parent families to use drugs, be gang members, be expelled from school, be committed to reform institutions, and become juvenile murderers. Single parenthood inevitably reduces the amount of time a child has in interaction with someone who is attentive to the child’s needs, including the provision of moral guidance and discipline.”
As is the case in urban areas throughout the country, where shootings occur on a daily basis, young fatherless boys are affiliating with gangs and putting their futures in jeopardy. Why? Because they lack a fatherly figure to teach them right from wrong, to instill discipline and respect for authority, and to serve as a role model.
However, that begs the question: Why is the family unit in such a state of disrepair, particularly in urban America? On this note, many theories exist, but the best evidence suggests that the creation of the welfare state in the 1960s is at least partially to blame.
In the mid-1960s, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared “war on poverty” and began implementing the vast welfare programs known as the Great Society.
Unfortunately, LBJ’s Great Society created a perverse incentive system, whereby single mothers were offered generous welfare benefits as long as they remained unmarried. Moreover, the more children they had out-of-wedlock, the more transfer payments they received.
Nearly six decades into this failed experiment in social engineering, we are at a breaking point. Our inner-cities, once vibrant meccas for business and industry, have become blighted, lawless wastelands, wherein shootings and murders have become commonplace and practically accepted as a way of life by spineless leaders who are afraid to call a spade a spade.
If President Biden, and Vice President Harris, who Biden chose to lead the new office, were to come clean with the American people, they would cite the real cause of the gun violence epidemic: the utter absence of fathers in cities (and rural areas) throughout the nation.
In 2008, then-Sen. Barack Obama said, “Of all the rocks upon which we build our lives, we are reminded today that family is the most important. And we are called to recognize and honor how critical every father is to that foundation… But if we are honest with ourselves… We know that more than half of all black children live in single-parent households, a number that has doubled — doubled — since we were children.”
Later, he added, “We need fathers to realize that responsibility does not end at conception. We need them to realize that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child — it’s the courage to raise one.”
Although I rarely agree with Obama on most issues, I must say that he hit the nail on the head when he identified the root cause of what continues to ail our nation and is likely the biggest contributor to our nation’s nagging problem of gun violence: fatherlessness and the breakdown of the American family.
Photo by Gage Skidmore. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0.