When I was a young man living in New York City we never had of the amount of gun violence you see now. You might say that’s because there were not that many guns around. I would have to disagree with you. During the late 1960’s and early to mid 1970’s the proliferation of weapons on the street was substantial. Almost everyone I knew carried a knife, myself included. And, I had a number of friends who carried handguns for protection. Some of my High School classmates carried guns even at school. I went to a private Catholic High School where a number of students came from the Lower Manhattan/Little Italy section of the city. You can fill in the blanks for yourself as to what “family” affiliations they had. I still remember the moment while getting ready for gym class that a .45 caliber 1911 handgun slid out of one of my classmate’s pants pockets. He gave me a quick look to see what I would do. A simple nod of the head as I turned away was my way to telling him that I wouldn’t say anything. I knew who he was, what his father did for a living and that having that gun was a necessity for him. In the four years we went to school together he never pulled the gun on anybody and nor did anyone else who we knew that carried. Neither had anyone of us who carried knives, some as early as grade school, gone on stabbing sprees or used it in a crime. It was simply a way of life.
Violence and even death was also a way of life. One of my classmates was killed by a rival gang in Chinatown for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was a slight, soft-spoken member of the group who didn’t carry a weapon. He was protected by his cousins and friends. On this particular afternoon he was by himself when he took a shortcut home through Chinatown. The price of that mistake was a knife piercing his chest and bleeding out on a city street. As we sat in a memorial service that week in the school gym most of us were stricken and distraught by the loss of one of our own. Needless to say, his family dispensed justice on the gang of youths who murdered him. In one event 5 teens were dead within a week – my friend and the gang members who killed him. 5 young lives snuffed out by bad choices and a hardened lifestyle. But, that was the end of it. No more retaliation and no further police involvement. No copycat events or nonstop media coverage. It barely garnered one paragraph in the newspaper and a brief report on the nightly TV news. We never forgot about it but didn’t fixate on it either. And, we knew it could happen again. That was life in New York City during those days.
I don’t share that to justify it or condone it. I share it to show that life was just as dangerous back then. What we didn’t have was a generation of youth with no sense of consequences for their actions. We all knew that one action could, and would, create a ripple effect of subsequent actions that would not only destroy our lives but those of loved ones as well. Television and films have indoctrinated our youth over the last 2 decades that the answer to everything is violence and that there are no consequences for their actions. Violence now is stylized and those who can do it well are glorified. Hollywood has also diminished the true nature of violence for ticket sales and television ratings. Video games have played their part as well into the desensitizing of our society. First person shooting games as well as those filled with violent gore are best sellers. Brains are being hardwired for violence and desensitized to it as well.
And, while I will agree with you that the majority of people know better than to act out what they see in real life there are a small percentage that don’t. It’s that small percentage we see regularly in the news who have lost the reasoning ability needed to understand the consequences of their actions . Instead of seeing honest and transparent discussions about the cause of such violence we see politically charged rhetoric about an inanimate object instead the hands that wield them. The news headlines are filled with more calls for gun control but no calls for dealing with the people who use them in a constructive, proactive manner. Interestingly enough many of the voices crying out for change are the very ones who profit from promoting violence in their films, television shows or video games. The do as I say don’t do as I do mindset of Hollywood is part of the problem in my opinion.
We need a long hard look at the cause of the violence we are seeing today. We need to examine the influence of media and the dysfunction of the home to find answers. Monsters aren’t born they are formed. Why is that happening so much these days? As long as we fixate on the lifeless weapon of choice we will change nothing. Evil will always find a way to manifest and anger will always find a way to fulfill its desires. Will society stop the angry polarizing rhetoric to do that? I do not think so. That genie is out of the bottle. Which is why many of us want the ability to protect ourselves and our families against such events. We want more done by those who are qualified to protect us and our children. We know that law enforcement is reactive to events after they happen. We also know from the Parkland School Shooting in Florida that not all law enforcement can be trusted to protect our children. Thankfully the majority of the first responders are trustworthy. However, all it takes is for a few to be derelict in their duties and we see the outcome of such blind dependency. From that same event we learned that laws and policies won’t protect our children and that gun free zones do more to endanger us than to protect us. As long as our children and certain parts of our society are sitting ducks for violent, extremist behavior these events will continue. And, I shudder to say, they will increase.
If terrorists, criminals and the criminally insane know that no one will stop their actions there is no deterrent against them from acting on them. They know that they will receive be made famous by the media and politicians they will continue to make the choices for the twisted glory it gives them. From the time that Cain killed Able with a rock nothing has changed. Bad things happen to good people and evil acts out whenever it can sometimes for selfishly ridiculous reasons. We need to change ourselves, our society and our focus on such matters. We need to understand why these choices are being made with such frequency and do all that we can to be proactively prepared to stop them or respond to them. Instead of soul-searching for legal or political answers we need the soul changing and a transformational mindset in our youth. Stop the divisive rhetoric and start the real discussions for real emotional and spiritual change in our society.
Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.