Gun violence in Chicago
As Memorial Day approached in Chicago, city officials and peace officers knew what that meant. There had been 1177 shootings in their city when the weekend began. Some 233 people were dead. So they went to extraordinary lengths to protect their served public: 1,000 extra officers were put on duty. The mayor called for calm (who does that in peacetime?).
But this is a case of officials understanding what was going to happen anyway. The New York Times deployed a staff of reporters (probably more accurately described as war correspondents) to document the weekend. The tally in the end was 64 people shot with six fatalities.
The full New York Times write-up can be found here. Please read it.
The right to bear arms
Our country was founded on a philosophy of an independent yet coordinated right to keep and bear arms in defense of our country. Somehow, that morphed into the right to keep and bear arms to protect oneself by going out in public with weapons -- when there is no apparent pertinent external threat to the country of any kind -- for the purpose of protecting oneself against people who oppose anything that we personally stand for.
That is FAR from the intent of the founders.
So the question, distilled to its simplest form, is this: What do we want our country to be?
Here are some of the contrasts:
- If we originally established citizen militias to protect us from outside occupation, do we want to use that concept to protect ourselves from our own citizens who disagree with us?
- We decided back in the 1860s that one race does not have the moral and ethical right to own another race. Yet even though that was decided, attempts to eliminate the influence of other races persists to this day, as exemplified today through voter suppression initiatives. Is that what we want?
- If we substitute 'gender' for 'race' some of the same issues apply. I am not qualified in any way to comment on women's health issues. So should I be tolerating the violence conducted against women's health organizations? For any reason whatsoever?
Perfect storm of violence
And all of these have apparently come together in a perfect storm of violence in one of our great cities:
- The concept of citizen militias has allowed anyone and everyone to carry a weapon, regardless of their purpose or qualification.
- This has enabled citizens -- even those without social backing -- to carry weapons and use them for their own purposes that are far outside of the founders' intent.
- This has been supported by political organizations (i.e.: the NRA) that are SO afraid of losing influence that they are willing to sacrifice the lives of our fellow citizens in order to maintain political influence.
- And all of this has devolved into an economic and race war, being fought in the streets of Chicago, where economic and social privilege has forced the suppressed into wars with themselves over who will be successful in a system that is stacked against them. You can see the results playing out in the news on a daily and weekly basis.
What DO we want our country to become? Think on it. And then ACT on what you decide. Your children's future may depend on your answer.
More on gun violence in America: