NationalStacy Brown

Nipsey Hussle, Gun Violence and the Big Business of Weapons

As the family of Grammy-nominated hip-hop superstar Nipsey Hussle prepares to memorialize the late artist at a service inside Los Angeles’ Staples Center, many remain concerned that gun violence is America’s true national emergency.

Hussle, whose real name was Emias Joseph Asghedom, who was shot to death outside of his Marathon Clothing store in Los Angeles on March 31, will be laid to rest after the 10 a.m. PST ceremony on Thursday.

“If we are to truly make progress on the crisis that’s facing every community across the country, I believe that we need to approach the issue of gun violence from a values-based perspective,” said Dante Barry, the executive director of Million Hoodies Movement for Justice and an expert for the personal finance website WalletHub.

“No matter how we identify, we all understand the value of what it means to be safe in our communities. Gun violence prevention policies should be connected to a shared sense of safety for all communities,” Barry said in response to a new WalletHub study that compared the economic impact of guns on each of the 50 states to determine which among them leans most heavily on the gun business, both directly for jobs and political contributions and indirectly through ownership.

A vigil is held in front of the Marathon Clothing store near Crenshaw and Slauson in Los Angeles in honor of slain rapper and community leader Nipsey Hussle, who was fatally shot in front of the store, which he owned, on March 31. (Brandon I. Brooks/Los Angeles Sentinel)
A vigil is held in front of the Marathon Clothing store near Crenshaw and Slauson in Los Angeles in honor of slain rapper and community leader Nipsey Hussle, who was fatally shot in front of the store, which he owned, on March 31. (Brandon I. Brooks/Los Angeles Sentinel)

“I do not believe that we have a unified vision for what safe communities look like,” Barry said. “We need solutions to address the prevalence of guns in our society. We also need to understand the root causes of violence in families and communities impacted by the devastating toll of gun violence.

“This includes the loss of a loved one by a gun, and for many communities, the impact of generational trauma because of systemic injustices related to poverty and how people of color experience policing in their communities,” he said. “If we align our values for safety and justice for all communities, with a vision for a shared sense of safety, we can break the pattern of gun violence.”

Guns contributed more than $52 billion to the U.S. economy and generated over $6.8 billion in federal and state taxes in 2018, according to the WalletHub study.

In 2018, gun crime was a high-profile political issue, highlighted by incidents such as the Parkland, Florida, school shooting in February and the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting in October.

Many states passed new gun laws and gun control groups outspent gun rights groups, the study showed.

2019 has had its own share of violent incidents as well, such as the Aurora, Ill., workplace shooting in February.

Accordingly, several new laws have been passed this year, including a federal ban on bump stocks.

Some of the studies main findings included:

  • Alaska has the highest gun ownership rate, 61.70 percent, 11.9 times higher than in Delaware, which has the lowest at 5.20 percent.
  • New Hampshire has the most firearms-industry jobs per 10,000 residents, 42.16, 11.3 times more than in New Jersey, which has the fewest at 3.73.
  • Connecticut has the highest average firearms-industry wages and benefits, $75,300, 2.5 times higher than in New Mexico, which has the lowest at $30,600.
  • Wyoming has the highest total taxes paid by the firearms industry per capita, $8.13, 12.3 times higher than in New York, which has lowest at $0.66.

“We need to direct our efforts to expand funding for gun violence research, which should also involve accurate data about police shootings,” Barry said.

“I believe that expanding our social safety net, which allows for all communities to receive a fair chance to live in a resilient, healthy community where working class people are afforded quality jobs, affordable housing, ensuring that having healthcare is a right, and providing quality education to our young people so that they don’t fall too far behind because of the school to prison pipeline,” he said, adding that, “these are all effective ways to prevent gun violence in the communities that live at the margins of our society.”

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