Gun-related violence and murders are concentrated among blacks and Latinos in big cities. Murders with guns are the No. 1 cause of death for African-American men between the ages of 15 and 34. But talking about race in the context of guns would also mean taking on a subject that can’t be addressed by passing a law: the family-breakdown issues that lead too many minority children to find social status and power in guns. …

President Obama, a hero in black America as the first black president, has been remarkably quiet on this issue until recently. It was only in December, after the mass killing of mostly white school children in Newtown, Conn., by a white man, that the president took the political risk of backing new gun-control legislation. …

In speaking about social breakdown in those minority communities, the president put the gun issue in the context of high rates of out-of-wedlock births that lead to high rates of childhood poverty. “I wish I had a father who was around and involved,” the president said, in words that echoed loudly through black and Latino neighborhoods nationally because he revealed a pain so common, yet so rarely confessed, among young people of color.

The shame and silence is enforced by civil-rights leaders who speak in support of gun control but never about a dysfunctional gangster-rap culture that glorifies promiscuity, drug dealers and the power of the gun.