Chicago and Las Vegas

This is instructive: According to this article, as many people were killed by guns on the streets of Chicago in September as were killed in the shooting in Las Vegas. And, September was a low month for gun deaths in the Windy City. This in spite of the fact that Illinois has some of the country’s most restrictive gun laws.

Let’s be clear. I don’t own a gun and never have. I’ve never held a gun, much less ever fired one. I have no emotional or NRA-inspired attachment to the Second Amendment.

The case this article supports is the one I’ve made before: that our gun violence is more a symptom of culture than of easy access to guns.

It also supports another point I’ve made before, I think: that, unless you live in urban poverty, or are involved in illegal activity, especially human trafficking and drug-running, or you are suicidal, the chances of your being a victim of gun violence in this country are actually very low.

There are 33,000 gun deaths in the U. S. each year. Almost two-thirds of those are suicides. 12,000 are homicides, but more than half of those homicides are young men, and two-thirds of those young men are black, largely reflecting the violence inherent in poverty-stricken urban centers dominated by gangs and cartels. About 1700 women are killed by guns each year, many as a result of domestic violence.

The point of the fivethirtyeight article is that there are a variety of reasons that people in the U. S. are killed by guns each year, and each of these reasons requires a different response. Very few of the gun control restrictions proffered by politicians will address these reasons. If someone is intent on killing himself (and the majority of gun-related suicides are men over the age of 45), than merely taking away his gun won’t stop him because there are innumerable ways a person can kill himself. We need an effective mental health system. More than restrictive gun-control laws, that have proved completely ineffective in Chicago, those in poverty-stricken urban centers need a way out of poverty. But, government programs are designed, largely, to keep them in poverty rather than giving them the resources to move up and out of poverty. The same is true for women who are in desperate, violent relationship. They need a way out of these relationships, not laws that will theoretically but not really restrict access to guns to the men who threaten them.

In short, passing gun-control laws is an easy, but ineffective, answer to the problem of gun violence in this country. It makes politicians think they’re addressing the problem, when they’re really not. The real solutions, such as an effective mental health system, resources to move families out of poverty and women out of violent relationships, are hard and unattractive and the progress from these is not immediately seen, so politicians can’t point to them in time for the next election.

Ultimately, what we really need is a new culture, a culture that values human life and the dignity of the human person. We won’t achieve that so long as we’re looking for easy answers.

Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.

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