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Why gun violence is a C-suite issue

July 8, 2022, 8:23 PM UTC

Happy Friday.

You’re likely still processing the news about the alleged suspect accused of the mass shooting that occurred during a July Fourth parade in Highland Park, Illinois. There’s a lot to unpack.

Robert “Bobby” Crimo III is accused of shooting into the crowded parade route from a rooftop. Dozens of people were injured, and seven have died. He has been charged with seven counts of first-degree murder, with more charges pending. The attack appears to have been carefully planned.

Crimo appears to have been a menace hiding in plain sight.

He grew up in a tumultuous home. His preoccupation with violence, death, and guns was apparent from the thousands of posts, photos, elaborate videos, and songs—he was a self-styled rapper—he shared online. Police visited his home in 2019 and confiscated 16 knives after a relative called to say Crimo had threatened to “kill everyone.”

Locals recognized him immediately.

He is now credibly accused of appearing at an area synagogue during Passover this year, and was monitored closely by security because “he seemed out of place.” And Highland Park resident Rachael Wachstein reported seeing Crimo at numerous gatherings with far-right activist groups at pro-Trump events. He targeted counter-protesters. “He was pretty aggressive,” she said. “He was up in my friend’s face, shouting,” she told the Washington Post.

Yet, he was able to legally purchase five firearms.

Writing for the Atlantic, Imani Perry has a heart-breaking piece on gun violence in the U.S., drawing a necessary comparison between the death of Jayland Walker by the police, an unarmed young man who was shot some 60 times after fleeing a traffic stop in Akron, Ohio, and Crimo, a sniper who terrorized an entire community, and who was taken into custody without incident.

She reaches the same conclusion as I have: No one is safe.

Some people are far more vulnerable than others. Those who are further from whiteness, wealth, gender norms, able-bodiedness, and citizenship bear the brunt of harm in the United States. But when you create a nation that fetishizes firearms and rejects interdependence, respect for all, and the public good, no one is safe. We are all learning, slowly but surely, that you cannot contain this easy-bake gun violence.

The guiding principle of raceAhead has always been to notice who is not in the room—or board, or supply chain, or leadership team, or suburban haven, or gifted program in school, or in the “healthy outcomes” column in any medical research, etc.—and ask why. In a world defined by dominant culture overrepresentation by default, the talent pipeline from birth to C-suite has some predictable, and predictably tragic, leaks.

The pipeline from birth to mass shooter may be complex, but not that hard to predict.

My prediction—or maybe just a wish in disguise—is that leaders with position or brand power will find it increasingly untenable to sit on the sidelines of public advocacy on gun safety in the U.S. It is a public health issue. It is a human rights issue. And, yes, it is a talent pipeline/diversity issue.  

You can’t upskill dead.

Wishing you a peaceful weekend.

Ellen McGirt
@ellmcgirt
Ellen.McGirt@fortune.com

This edition of raceAhead was edited by Ashley Sylla.

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Parting words

As we go about our lives, we touch people, we see people, and interact with them, and in doing so we feel and think many things. Sometimes we make others happy, sometimes we hurt them, we sympathize, and we disagree. In the midst of this we learn that people’s thoughts and feelings are not a one-way street…The games that the characters played were not played facing monitors, but facing other people. The opponents they played were the mirrors that reflected their hearts. In a basic sense, they fought each other’s spirits. Because this was a manga, it was deeply colored by the battle between good and evil, but I think the basis of the “game” was to clarify what lies between people.”

Kazuki Takahashi, creator of the globally beloved Yu-Gi-Oh! manga comic, trading card game, and media franchise, in 2004. He was found dead in an apparent diving accident on July 7.

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