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Sunday, May 16, 2021

Too many guns, too much violence

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Does your mind ever wonder about the senseless violence that occurs throughout our country on a frequent basis, and the vast number of guns used to commit heinous crimes that affects virtually all of us in our respective communities?

Does your mind ever wonder about how so many guns get distributed throughout our country, legally and illegally, with regularity and end up in the wrong hands that are driven by hatred, revenge, greed and murderous motives?

Unfortunately, we live in a culture across this country that is fueled by money, power and violence. And the typical weapon of choice in carrying out these motives are usually guns.  Multiple models of all kinds of guns readily available for a price — legally and illegally. The Second Amendment of the American Constitution guarantees the right of gun ownership and the right to carry if one meets the legal requirements of his or her respective state. In addition to this, the applicant citizen must undergo a criminal background check, and if eligible, must have the weapon registered with the state. In most cases none of the gun applicants have to undergo any kind of weapons training before they are legally registered to have a gun.

On the other hand, with regard to illegal guns, the underground market, often referred to as the black market, is a vast reservoir of weapons for persons of questionable character and criminal behavior who would never pass a background check in this country. Although this is the standard benchmark for denial of gun ownership, still numerous illegal weapons sales are commonly made to illegal buyers on a regular basis throughout this country, and right here in the state of Indiana. Vast numbers of guns are brought into large urban areas like Indianapolis by gun gunners (or gun smugglers) and sold for reduced prices to virtually anyone. Also, numerous illegal gun purchases are made at gun and knife shows on a common basis because the vendors don’t properly run background checks on prospective buyers. All the vendors want to do is sell guns and make money, just as the gun smugglers. Profit motive is a driving force behind gun distribution in this country.

The sad thing about all these weapons on the streets, and in all these questionable hands, is in many cases they are used to commit heinous crimes. In 2020, Indianapolis had a record number of 215 homicide cases — most of them through gun violence. Moreover, many of these cases were committed by younger persons, and sadly a great deal of it was Black-on-Black crime.  Other major urban areas like New York City, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Memphis, and many others have similar rates and even much higher.

Then there are the senseless mass murders that are occurring constantly around the country such as in Boulder, Colorado, and Atlanta just recently. Even occurring in Indianapolis recently with two different families located on its east side by questionable family members. Although there are fewer numbers of Blacks committing mass murders as compared to White perpetrators, the prime issue is that guns are too easily accessible in our American culture. And what seems to exacerbate this problem is the multitude of violent movies and TV shows our children see on a daily basis. We live in a culture of violence, and there is no doubt about it.

One last point before closing on this brief statement, as much more could be elaborated on this devastating social crisis, are the issues of mental health factors increasingly coming into play with rampant gun violence. These days we are seeing more and more mentally unstable individuals getting access to guns and committing heinous crimes and mass murders. Why is this happening? Evidence not only points toward illegal sales of guns off the streets, but also to a major lack of background information on prospective buyers. Now, obviously legal gun merchants don’t possess the ability to read a person’s mental status, but they could still possibly eliminate some of this problem by closing some loopholes on background checks information. Clearly, this particular matter will need to be addressed by a collaboration of the legislators, local law enforcement, and the federal and state court systems.

There is no doubt we live in a society bursting at its seams with rampant gun violence, and something needs to be done about it. Background checks, illegal sales, and the profit motive of big gun company distributions must be addressed. It appears the best way for the public to address it is by contacting their respective federal and state lawmakers and representatives and demanding reform in this area. We’ll need to keep in mind, however, there are a multitude of gun proponents that see this issue differently. In spite of this, we still must demand reform.    

Ron Rice is a retired criminal justice professional, local author and a motivational speaker. He can be reached at rice.ronald@sbcglobal.net.

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