Gun culture on display

Posted on June 3, 2016. Filed under: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Columns | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

For most Americans, Memorial Day is a holiday weekend rich with robust dimensions.

It formally embodies somber respect for fallen soldiers, and appreciative gratitude for the blessings of liberty they died to preserve. It’s also the informal kickoff to the summer season, a time of joy that includes road trips (89 percent of holiday travelers drove to their destinations), cookouts, outdoor activities such as swimming and boating, and bargain-hunting amid holiday sales.

We lay wreaths to honor supreme sacrifice, then celebrate the fruits of freedom with festivities.

But for a growing number of citizens, Memorial Day is not a holiday at all, but instead a worrisome weekend fraught with fear and terror, maim and mayhem, blood and death. More than anything else, perhaps, modern Memorial Days (and other summer holiday weekends) are showcasing the true nature of America’s gun culture—and it’s a far cry from the picture painted by political propaganda.

Like millions of others basking in the bliss of grilled holiday burgers and nursing a sunburn, I missed the bloodbath unleashed in Chicago till I read reports of it on Tuesday.

Sixty-nine shootings rocked the Windy City from Friday till Memorial Monday. That capped a May total of 318 shootings, which left 397 Chicagoans injured and 66 dead. Amazingly, with so much lead flying over the weekend, only six victims died. That’s a dastardly, disgusting asterisk, however; the relatively low death toll masks the violence, and minimizes the outrage.

Propaganda is a powerful tool, and in no subject is it more expertly applied than gun crime. The “gun culture” as presented, discussed and analyzed in the mass media is a fiction of Orwellian magnitude. Its imagery of unregulated gun shows, uneducated gun owners, and trigger-happy rednecks is false fodder for gun-control advocacy as a legislative end—not a social solution that actually saves lives.

The sad shooting snapshot that was Chicago on Memorial Day will play out all summer long, in every major metropolitan statistical area.

But not in every metro neighborhood.

A map of shootings from May in Chicago reveals the discriminatory nature of criminal gunplay. When overlaid on a demographic map, the little dots that represent shootings are overwhelmingly located in black and Hispanic population centers. The shooters and the victims are overwhelmingly minorities. A majority of the victims are also male, and either criminals themselves or associating with criminals.

The youngest homicide victim over the weekend in Chicago was a 15-year-old girl, who was a passenger in a car with two known gang members when it was fired upon at 1:30 Saturday morning.

This is the monumental fraud that is being furtively propagated on us all. Gun laws don’t matter to the lawless. No gun-control measure—from magazine capacity limits to assault-weapon bans—would have saved that teenage girl and spared her family’s grief.

With so many black lives lost in Chicago in an unusually violent May, one might have expected some comment or acknowledgement from the Black Lives Matter movement.

But special interests are exceedingly narrow; despite their often noble-sounding names, they cling tight and hold close to their core issue. Had a white cop shot a black victim in Chicago, the pre-ordained protests would have materialized en masse. While black lives lost in the business-as-usual intra-racial crime of urban areas like Chicago’s West and South sides do actually matter, the Black Lives Matter is really only interested in grinding the racist axe.

Another fairy-tale aspect of America’s gun crime is that it’s not even a gun issue but a geographic one. Shootings are remarkably concentrated in the largest American cities, because that’s where the gangs are.

The FBI Uniform Crime Report tracks violent crime and murder rates by cities, which it categorizes by population size. When aggregated according to city categories, it becomes clear that our national “average” statistics on crime serve to disguise some incredibly high-crime urban areas.

Chicago, despite being one-third the size of New York City, has a murder rate four times higher. But Chicago doesn’t even crack the top 10 cities above 250,000 for murder. St. Louis’ rate is 10 times that of New York City.

The 76 cities in that largest category (which represents about 18 percent of the nation’s population) have a collective average murder rate of 9.27 per 100,000 population. In contrast, there are 3,056 cities with populations between 10,000 and 99,999 and 5,227 cities with populations between 1,000 and 9,999 in the FBI data. Together they represent 36 percent of the nation’s citizenry. Their collective murder rates are 2.98 and 2.46.

The gang problem, which is inherently criminal, is America’s main gun problem. They’re illegally armed to the teeth, and ruthless in their recklessness regarding collateral damage.

So why do liberal politicians insist on legislating to the exception—further regulation of gun owners who aren’t shooting people—rather than the rule?

No community should have to dodge bullets and bury innocents over a holiday weekend as if it were in a Third World ghetto.

Gangs, not guns, are the cancer. Where’s the leadership on curing that?

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