(Ed. note: This is an update of an earlier version) In Knoxville, Tennessee, a high school football player was killed in a mistaken act of retribution on December 17. Fifteen-year-old Zaevion Dobson shielded three girls from bullets fired by several men, sacrificing his life. The girls were unharmed but Dobson died of a gunshot wound to the head.
 
President Barack Obama tweeted a message, not only to pay tribute to the heroic teenager, but to also make a plug for gun control. He tweeted: “Zaevion Dobson saved three friends from getting shot. He was a hero at 15. What’s our excuse for not acting?”
 
 
Gun control has been a central plank in the Democratic party platform, and throughout the years of the Obama administration as the president has responded to incidents involving firearms. His proposals to increase gun control include some 23 executive actions and three presidential memoranda, most of which require Congressional approval. They include: requiring background checks for all gun sales; banning military-style so-called assault weapons; cracking down on gun shows and “straw purchasers” (as was the case in the San Bernardino terrorist incident) who pass background checks and then transfer firearms to prohibited people.
 
 
In calling for further restrictions on firearms, Obama and fellow Democrat presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders ignored the lopsided murder rate within the black community. According to statistics released by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, there were 370 murders committed in the state in 2014. Of these, 147 were committed by whites (Hispanics included), while the number of murders committed by blacks reached 220. The bureau reported that two murders were committed by Asians, while one was attributed to a person of unknown race or ethnic origin. African Americans are 17 percent of the population of Tennessee.
 
This tracks with data for the entire United States. According to the FBI Supplemental Homicide Report, blacks committed half of the murders in the country but are only 12 percent of the US population. 
 
According to Pew Research Center, 49 percent of whites own guns while only 19 percent of blacks have a firearm in their home.
 
A city in shock
 
Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch said that the killer, Brandon Perry (23), was accompanied by several men who were responding to the shooting of Perry’s mother earlier on the same night in another location. At the scene of Dobson’s death, Chief Rausch said that the men “randomly fired multiple times,” and killed the teen.
 
Alleged shooter Perry was also found to have been shot, having driven his car into another apartment. He died of his injuries on December 18. The identity of Perry's killer remains under investigation; one of his companions was detained by police soon after the incident and faces additional charges. The two other men involved were detained for questioning by the police. “These cowardly and senseless acts of violence must stop,” Rausch said. “We should be preparing to celebrate the Christmas holiday, but now we have two men who are dead.” Saying that the shootings were gang-related, Rausch said that there was no apparent motive for killing Dobson. “Unfortunately, they picked a random group of young men and women who were just hanging out and trying to prepare to celebrate the holiday,” he said.
 
 
Dobson was a sophomore at Fulton High School in northern Knoxville. “He was really one of our success stories,” said Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero. “Involved in sports, a mentee of one of our organizations in town. But still he falls victim to this.” Rogero also said that Dobson was a mentor to others through the Greater Knoxville chapter of 100 Black Men: an organization that has the stated goal of helping minority youth reach their full potential.  Dobson’s football coach, Rob Black, said that the fallen boy was well liked by his peers and teachers. Black asked for prayers for the Dobson family, his teammates and Fulton High School. “This is a fine, fine young man who is a success story,” he said. 
 
A candlelight vigil was held on the evening of December 18 by friends and family at Sam E. Hill Family Community Center. According to Andre Canty of 100 Black Men, young Dobson had been involved in community efforts to stem violence on the streets.

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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