Cheap Seats 2019
Taking Aim - 08/21
By Rich Trzupek
I want to make it clear at the outset: I am not in favor of mass shootings. In fact, I am rather against them.
Yes, that is a bold stance to take. But fear not dear readers, your humble correspondent isn’t planning on running for president or anything. I take this bold stance because it seems that we can’t have a discussion about guns in 21st century America without talking about mass shootings, which, you will recall, I have come out against.
What does pneumonia, living in a residence, climbing a tree, driving a car and coming in contact with a sharp object have in common? All are more likely to kill you than a mass shooting.
Living in a residence? Sure. You are way more likely to die of a fall in your home than at the hands of a crazed killer. If you make it out of your home safely, stay out of trees: falling out of them claims more lives too. Environmentalists may be in love with things, but I think of trees as “Mother Nature’s Quiet Assassins.”
In an average year about 27 Americans will die in mass shootings (that I continue to be strongly not if favor of). Twenty-seven shooting deaths is also known as a slow month in the City of Chicago where the annual homicide rate has been running well north of four hundred murders per year for the past four years.
No doubt that murder rate is President Trump’s fault, unless of course it’s the fault of the Chicago Police Department whose officers and chief are clearly as racist as The Donald no matter what race they claim to self-identify with.
The point is that living in this God-forsaken city, particularly in my native South Side and the West Side is a far more dangerous proposition than going about your day-to-day business and the slim possibility of falling victim of the next crazy mass shooter, whom I will be whole-heartedly against doing that thing that earns him that moniker.
Most of the violence on the South and West sides of Chicago does involve guns. That fact cannot be denied. But, it’s not the guns that are the source of the violence. They are rather the expression of the violence. If we could somehow magically make every civilian firearm disappear overnight, it’s beyond naïve to believe that the sort of violence that consumes poor Chicago neighborhoods would stop. We need to stop talking about choice of weapons and focus on the causes of conflict.
The vast majority of murders in the Windy City involve gang warfare and the vast majority of that warfare involves the financially lucrative drug trade. Didn’t some politician or other recently use the term “it’s all about the Benjamins?” Well, in this case, it actually is.
The mass shootings (that I strongly oppose) are but a blip on the radar compared to murders of all sort that occur in vast, poor, gang-infested swathes of urban America today.
Unfortunately, the comparisons only get more troubling as we dig deeper. Let’s talk drugs. On average, more than 130 Americans daily die of opioid overdose. While we wring our hands and shed tears over the victims of the latest mass-shooting; while politicians and journalists lament the dead and denounce an America where the Second Amendment could be used to empower maniac mass murderers; while we clasp our hands in fervent prayer to a merciful God in hope that He (or She, however the Supreme Being self-identifies) will make it stop – while all this is happening about five times the number of Americans who will die as a victim of a mass shooting (any of which shootings are not endorsed by A View From the Cheap Seats or Examiner Publications) in a given year will have their lives cut short every day.
Like it or not people, guns are in America to stay. Our challenge my friends, is three-fold: 1) to ensure that firearms are used and managed as responsibility as any other tool, 2) to decrease the urge to resort to violent means of any sort to settle disputes or make money, and 3) to create hope and opportunity for those segments of our society fixated on drugs, gangs and a culture of death.