Abené Clayton, a reporter on the Guardian’s Guns and Lies in America project, examines why the debate on guns in the US does not treat shooting victims and their families equitably, and the impact that can have on communities
Abené Clayton, is the lead reporter on the Guardian’s Guns and Lies in America series, a project investigating the initiatives that are saving lives amid the US’s gun violence crisis. She talks to Anushka Asthana about why the focus on “mass shootings” obscures the violence that really drives America’s gun violence crisis. Less than 3% of America’s gun homicide victims die in what are generally considered “mass shootings”. But none of the community shootings last year prompted national debates over what we should do to prevent this kind of violence, and rarely do people dig into the reasons behind a community shooting or the motivation of the shooter – if they’re ever arrested.
The mass shooting debate is not just biased, it is actively harmful and racist, she says. Inaccurate and reductive euphemisms such as “Black on Black crime”, “inner-city violence” or “gang violence” still frequently warp descriptions of the daily experiences of communities of colour. Rarely are stories of grieving Black and brown families and their deceased loved ones granted the same carefulness in language as high-profile mass shootings.