Democratic presidential candidate Martin O'Malley said Sunday that racism is partly to blame for the absence of new federal gun-control legislation.
“One of the sad triumphs of white racism is the degree to which it has succeeded in subconsciously convincing so many of us, black and white, that somehow black lives don’t matter,” O'Malley said at a U.S. Conference of Mayors gathering in San Francisco, according to the Los Angeles Times. “If the thousands of young men killed by gun violence every year across America were young, poor, and white—rather than young, poor, and black—it is hard to imagine that our Congress would continue to block common-sense measures to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.”
“How many acts of violence do we have to endure as a people before we stand up to the congressional lobbyists of the National Rifle Association?” he said, citing recent shootings in Newtown, Connecticut; Aurora, Colorado; and the Washington, D.C., Navy Yard, according to the newspaper. A former Maryland governor and Baltimore mayor, he also called on South Carolina leaders to remove the Confederate flag from state capitol grounds after a gunman killed nine African-American worshippers in a church in Charleston last week, the report said.
O'Malley spoke to the group a day after rival Hillary Clinton, who leads in early-state and national primary polls. Clinton said the country's “long struggle with race is far from finished,” and called for “common-sense gun reforms that keep weapons out of the hands of criminals and the violently unstable while respecting responsible gun owners.”