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Opinion: America's culture of violence is the problem

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

By all means, let's ban assault weapons and reduce to a sane number the amount of bullets in a weapon's clip.

Absolutely mandate and increase background checks on gun purchases.

And certainly, let's monitor those with mental health issues to assure their access to guns in prohibited.

Cops in schools? Why not.

In the wake of the senseless murders of 20 precious children, we've finally decided to acknowledge our nation's gun problem.

Now don't we feel better about ourselves?

But wait.

Perhaps -- just a random thought -- we are ignoring a larger issue that relates to guns.


Nope, Tinseltown gets a pass because we certainly don't want to stifle artistic license.

Violent video games?

Nope, pure entertainment for those unattended youngsters.

Let's try this one on for size.

Is anyone interested in discussing the culture of violence that grips our urban centers?

Oops, did I hit a sore spot?

Gang shooting? Armed robberies?

The problem is not random murders like Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech or Aurora, Colo.

Those tragedies capture the headlines, as well they should.

But national statistics show that the bulk of gun deaths are not random.

Most are a direct result of a culture of violence between a suspect and a person known to the suspect.

Retaliations, feuds, turf protection and drug-related shootings.

Where are those issues in our myopic obsession to remove assault weapons?

Perhaps we can control guns. It's highly doubtful we can remove the culture of violence that is prevalent in urban cultures.

And yes, urban violence slowly creeps into nonurban regions like ours.

In the last decade, 2,000 servicemen and servicewomen were killed in Afghanistan. During that same time, in Chicago, 5,000 murders were committed with handguns.

Street gangs are responsible for the bulk of those.

Greatest number of handgun-related murders per capita?

Washington, D. C.

One of the strictest gun control policies in the nation?

Washington, D.C.

Do you honestly believe gang members purchased those guns legally?

Here's a snapshot of Chicago from a police official.

"Once you take a closer look, you will find out that the majority of conflicts stem from interpersonal conflicts that escalate into gang conflicts."

Politicians all too often address the low-hanging fruit and ignore underlying issues.

Assault weapons are an easy target.

Urban gangs and the culture of violence are much harder issues.

As usual, we're long on rhetoric and short on honest assessment and solutions.

So, what else is new?

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If Mike is being serious in his first four paragraphs, then he's come a long way. I congratulate him on seeing at least part of the problem in our country.

He's right, of course, about gang violence. The majority of the victims of gun deaths knew their killers. In most of these cases, if you put a bio of the killer alongside the bio of the victim and didn't identify which was which, you couldn't tell which was the killer.

America's culture of violence goes much deeper than gang violence, however. The gang violence is just the ultimate end result of the glorification of violence in our society as a whole. Yes, violent movies and violent video games may contribute a great deal to what is happening, but even those movies and video games are also just another ultimate end result of what we as Americans find fun and interesting: Violence.

We are a violent people as a nation. We practiced genocide on Native Americans and stole their land, we killed Mexicans and stole their land and we currently enjoy killing Islamic fanatics.

But you have to start somewhere, and the first four paragraphs of Mike's column offer a good beginning to addressing the outcomes of our violent society.

-- Posted by Raunchy on Wed, Jan 23, 2013, at 11:09 AM

Urban gang violence isn't that hard of an issue to resolve. Cut off their biggest source of revenue and urban gangs and gang related violence would shrink by 80%+ nearly overnight. Illegal drugs are the biggest revenue source for gangs and the spark for much of the violence. Legalize drugs and you deflate the gangs. Legal drug distributors can be expected to be as violent as our current legal alcohol distributors are.

We will still have criminal gangs, but theft rings and extortion rackets are much harder and less profitable work than dealing crack and the risk of getting caught is far greater when the only way to get money is to commit crimes that have actual direct victims.

-- Posted by Nil on Thu, Jan 24, 2013, at 3:07 AM

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