Ian Courts
5 min readAug 31, 2022


A brief examination of the prevalence of gun violence in the Black African Diaspora.

(left) Solomon Omogboye’s “Determination,” and (right) Mbongeni Fakudze’s “Blue?” apart of the “Pan Africa, series1” Showcase in South Africa’s ODA Gallery 2017.

An Opinion Piece.

By: Ian L. Courts¹


Gun violence is a pervasive issue within the modern global community. Gun violence has been fueled by a myriad of issues, including poverty, mental health, and the illegal trafficking of weapons through black market channels. Gun trafficking is profitable, and therefore it is proliferated through numerous criminal networks and chains. One of the communities that is intimately impact by gun violence and trafficking is the African Diaspora, which includes persons of Black African descent within Africa, the Caribbean, South America, Europe and the United States. In this discussion, will highlight the impact of gun violence on modern Black communities within Africa, the United States, and the Caribbean. Moreover, my goal in this discussion is to raise concerns about the prevalence of gun violence within the African diaspora, and raise awareness about how this issues has systemically impacted the African diaspora.


Liberia is one of Africa’s oldest democracies, and has a history that is intertwined with the United States of America. Many of Liberia’s founders were former enslaved and freed African Americans; the country’s founding institutions mirror the United States. The citizens of Liberia have experience systemic violence for most of the country’s modern history beginning with its civil wars of the 20th century to today’s recurrent violent outbreaks. 54% of Liberian’s live in poverty, and poverty rates within the country’s urban and rural areas remain largely the same.[1] The two main drivers of Liberia’s pervasive poverty include public corruption and violence. [2] According to the Arms Trade and Treaty Annual Report of 2017, a total of 1,740 guns were smuggled into Liberia, these numbers include only those that were reported or confiscated. [3] Moreover, Liberia’s fragile and corrupt government has smuggled numerous weapons into Cote d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone for the purposes of destabilizing the governments there, and aiding rebel groups. Liberia’s pervasive poverty, which is both self-inflicted and a product of a lack of global investment, has been expanded due to the country’s rampant corruption and overwhelming presence of violence. Liberia serves as a salient example of how poverty, political corruption, weapons trafficking and a lack of global investment create concoctions of destruction for many countries within West Africa, the genesis of the Black African diaspora.


Another infamous example of how pervasive gun violence, poverty and a lack of community investment by the global market has hampered a city is Philadelphia, within the American state of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia has long been plagued by a lack of significant investment from larger more global markets, especially after the decline of American manufacturing in the mid to late 20th century.[4] One of the products of the exodus of manufacturing jobs, and stagnant investment by the global markets is a city poverty rate of 23.3% for 2019. [5] Poverty conditions have contributed to and been a byproduct of significant violence, especially gun related violence within the city.[6] For the year 2021, Philadelphia’s gun violence resulted in 2,300 victims.[7] For America’s Independence and Constitution city, the place where two of the nation’s founding documents were drafted, to have a poverty and gun violence rate so significant is harrowing. Moreover, the vast majority of gun violence offenders, and victims within the city are African American. [8] The city’s response to the gun violence endemic has been lukewarm at best, and is largely a product of the city’s prevalence of public corruption within its executive and political offices. [9] Philadelphia serves as a prominent example of gun violence within the Black African diaspora because its shows very clearly that the foes of poverty and corruption can create or allow the opportunity for violence that shackles communities for decades, specially, within the city’s African American districts.


The Caribbean is another area where, gun violence and public corruption hinders the Black African Diaspora. For the purposes of this discussion, I will briefly examine the pervasiveness of gun violence within Jamaica’s Black communities. According to GunPolicy.org, in 2022, “37.72%” of homicides per 100,000 Jamaicans is due to gun violence.[10] Moreover, gun violence accounts for 77% of murders within the island. [11] These statistics may seem shocking to persons outside of the Black African Diaspora, but are common to the beautiful people within the Diaspora. Jamaica’s rampant poverty and lack of a robust governmental response to poverty, violence, and its own corruption have contributed to the island’s gun violence rate. [12] Accordingly, America’s gun laws impact of gun regulations in Jamaica because the government adopts or modifies those proposed within the United States, however, the success of the adopted measures has not been significant on curbing the rates of gun violence within Jamaica.[13]


The world needs to step back and examine the areas of the globe where a lack of economic investment has hampered one of its core people groups, the Black African Diaspora. Specifically, the prevalence of gun trafficking and violence into, within, and out of Black African Diasporic communities have created ecosystems of oppression, and degradation, which should not continue into the new world order. The Black African Diaspora despite these setbacks has been resilient, and will continue to thrive and progress; however, purposeful and meaningful intervention and investment by the global community in the Diaspora’s economic and social wellbeing can stem the tide of violence, and promote equalitarian systems. We must stop the taking of a pound of flesh within the African Diaspora due to gun violence, poverty, and a lack of global investment. As Nas penned:

If I ruled, I’d free all my sons

Black diamonds, I love ’em love ’em baby

Black diamonds and pearls, if I ruled

If I ruled the world

If I ruled the world.[14]

To those that do “rule the world,” we must address gun trafficking within the Black African Diaspora, and invest in Black economic interests to truly produce equity and freedom for all.

[1] See https://borgenproject.org/tag/liberia/

[2] Id.

[3] See Arms Trade Treaty Secretariat.2017.‘National Reports on Small Arms Exports and Imports.’ Arms Trade Treaty Annual Report.Geneva:Arms Trade Treaty Secretariat,1 January.

[4] See https://www.nytimes.com/1981/08/15/us/philadelphia-suffers-in-manufacturing-job-exodus.html

[5] See https://www.inquirer.com/business/philadelphia-poverty-unemployment-racism-education-upskilling-20201013.html

[6] See https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/11/us/philadelphia-gun-violence-shootings.html

[7] See https://phlcouncil.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/100-Shooting-Review-complete.pdf

[8] See https://www.pcgvr.org/philadelphia-shooting-victims-dashboard/ (For 2021, 85% of shooting victims were Black men, while 7% were Black Women.)

[9] See https://www.phillymag.com/news/2019/12/07/philadelphia-corruption-city-politics/

[10] See Alpers, Philip and Michael Picard. 2022. Guns in Jamaica: Rate of Gun Homicide per 100,000 People. Sydney School of Public Health, The University of Sydney. GunPolicy.org, 10 August. Accessed 11 August 2022. at: https://www.gunpolicy.org/firearms/compareyears/90/rate_of_gun_homicide

[11] Id.

[12] http://jpfo.org/articles-2022/jamaica-control-not-stops-gun-violence.htm

[13] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/25/world/americas/one-handgun-9-murders-how-american-firearms-cause-carnage-abroad.html

[14] Nas and Lauryn Hill “If I Ruled the World (Imagine That)” June 4, 1996 “It is Written” album track 14.

[1]: About the Author: Ian Courts is a young millennial attorney with expertise and a passion in American and international law and politics. Ian received his BA in Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2017, in 2020 he received his J.D. from North Carolina Central University School of Law, and in 2022 Ian received his LLM in International Criminal Law and Justice from the University of New Hampshire School of Law. Ian lives in Philadelphia where he is an appellate lawyer and the proud fur-dad of two American Cocker Spaniels.



Ian Courts

Attorney, Young Black Voice, Law & Politics Observer. HBCU Law Alumnus, and Fur dad!