Anyone who knows me will term what I write now as predictable. So be it. That Second Amendment devotees will not like it and will leave comments telling me so is also predictable. Oh well.
That the massacre at Virginia Tech was horrendous goes without saying. Thirty two dead, plus the gunman, who, predictably committed suicide. Evidently his behavior was so bizarre that many students and a teacher had been concerned since 2005 that he would commit suicide or do something else. He chose to do something else, something murderous, and take some with him when he went. One 23 year old kid, two guns, thirty three dead. Cho had purchased both guns legally, and both had been purchased in the last few weeks, the first on March 13, the receipt for the second was still in his backpack when he went on his killing spree, $570 bucks or so. The guy who sold him the gun said it was a legal purchase, Cho showed three forms of identification, and that Cho's purchase of a Glock 9mm was "unremarkable."
Again, one guy, two guns, thirty three dead in two hours.
For a couple of weeks, this post at da po' blog had been bugging me. Well written as always, and fact filled-something Da Po' does so well. It stated that as of April 1, here in New Orleans, there had been 48 deaths due to murder. Yes, we've all been talking about the crime here and we have dissected all the reasons for it from poverty and bad education, to drugs and entire empty swaths of a city for criminals to take refuge in, to our police chief and district attorney being unable or unwilling to deal with the problem, to our mayor being a lunatic who seems not to notice. (Oh yeah, and today, because we don't have enough public defenders, according to the news this morning on WWL, perhaps as many as 40 criminals will be released due to lack of representation. They were arrested on charges varying from possession of pot to aggravated rape. We'll see what happens with that. And no, I won't go into the why are we arresting people for possession of pot thing. I'll spare you that.)
The number of murdered people has by now increased as we're well into April. I didn't go look up the number, the body count, for today yet. What bothered me most about that post at da po' blog was that it consisted of lists that began to sound redundant in a most gut wrenching way: Unidentified male, Claiborne Ave., SHOT. Josh Rodrigue, found in street near the 2000 block of Iberville, SHOT IN THE NECK. Victim found lying in the street, MULTIPLE GUN SHOT WOUNDS. Man SHOT and killed in Central City. Security guard at FEMA trailer park, SHOT. A 25 year old man identified as Kevin Pham SHOT to death inside his family's home. A 22 year old woman SHOT to death in Treme, her friend was injured in the ankle. A 23 yr old man SHOT in Mid City, shell casings and an AK47 found in a two block area near the body. Da po' blog goes on listing them all. There was a woman who stabbed her husband and killed him in a domestic dispute, and I'm putting that in here so those who go read da po' blog's post won't pull that out and copy/paste it into the comments here saying, "SEEEEEE!!! It isn't just guns."
Okay, I'll give you that on that one. But I just took 7 deaths and one injury from that post, all had been shot, some multiple times, one possibly with an AK47 (WHAT??? Why are those on the streets?), by probably at least 7 different people. Seven people, 7 guns, 7 dead. Take a look again. Look at the ages of the dead. Many many of them are the same age as the fallen at Virginia Tech. Most of them probably didn't have the same opportunities as the Virginia Tech kids, and they most assuredly weren't found in classrooms. They were found on the streets, in their homes, on some corner, in a car. The kids at Virginia Tech had every reason to believe that they were in a safe place, which makes the massacre there all the more heart-rending. The kids dead in our streets knew they were not in a safe place. That should upset us greatly: our dead kids in the streets grew up in a culture of violence in our country, a culture ruled by the gun, and had no expectation of safety. That should break our collective hearts.
There was an ad or column I saw recently that said something like, "Come buy a piece of dirt in New Orleans." It was about the realty market I believe. I know for a fact it wasn't about buying a cemetery plot.
When Columbine happened those years ago, I found myself appalled by what had happened there, and also appalled that no one had noticed how many kids the same age had been shot dead in the streets of Los Angeles that same day. While the country mourned the babies of Columbine, so full of promise, they didn't mourn the babies of Compton, the ones to whom no promises had been made.
I feel the same way today. Too many guns, too many dead kids, too many lobbyists saying we'll give you money for your campaign if you vote our way.
Wyatt Earp did something that flew in the face of the Constitution. Old Wyatt, the historical one, not the movie one, was a rigid, moralistic old son of a bitch. He had no qualms about hunting down the murderers of his brother. I don't think I would have liked him much one on one. His idea of frontier justice was every bit as brutal as any gang culture today. But he did something very brave in Dodge City, Kansas. (And you thought I was going to talk about the streets turning into the OK Corral, now didn't you?) He set up what he called a "deadline." He got tired of the cowboys coming into town after the cattle had been herded, with paychecks in their pockets, heading for the saloons and the women, each with a couple guns and probably a rifle on their saddle. There were just getting to be too many killings there, so Wyatt put signs up all over the entrances to Dodge City. "DEADLINE," they said, along with instructions to drop off their guns before entering Dodge. They could retrieve them when they left, but if they were caught with a gun on their person within the limits of the city (above the railroad tracks), they would be put in jail, or in some cases, if they drew them they could be shot. A few gave him a hard time about it, but most handed over their handguns and rifles, went and had a good time in Dodge City, then went on their way to the next herd of cattle.
It was gun control within the city limits of Dodge. He didn't go to court to get any laws changed, he didn't have to fight with the behemoth NRA lobby, he just said, NO GUNS IN THIS TOWN.
Since it would appear that the NRA has way too much power in this country, (see this post at CBS News), I don't harbor any fantasies of real gun control in this country. The Brady Bill was gutted, and automatic weapons can still be purchased by just about anyone. We are a country who loves our SUV's at the cost of the environment. We are a country that was born out of gunfire and bloodshed, and many Americans like that. We are a country that mourns our dead children, and wonders why no one noticed a very disturbed 23 year old kid's problems, or why a gun dealer wouldn't wonder why this kid NEEDED a Glock 9mm. We are a country that sends our lucky kids off to good colleges expecting them not to be gunned down in their classrooms.
We are also a country that seems not at all concerned about our unlucky kids being gunned down in the streets, and not by one disturbed kid, but by whole groups of them. Kids who fill their pockets every morning with their cell phone, their iPod, and their Glock, as though their guns were just another accessory.
We need a deadline around New Orleans. We need gun control in this country. We need to get some DNA from the Constitutional framers, clone them and find out if AK47's and Glocks in everyone's hands were really what they were talking about. We need to put a stop to NRA influence. We need gun manufacturers who keep making better and better fingerprint resistant grips to take some responsibility.
I know. All fantasy. But the blood in our classrooms and all over our streets is not fantasy.
Amazingly the gun lobbies are trying to turn this to their advantage, jumping into the fray by yesterday afternoon with this.