Mass shootings aren’t America’s only problem with gun violence.
In the wake of three mass shootings in a single week, one of them at an elementary school, elected officials in the Democratic Party, and some Republicans, are pursuing gun control legislation.
House Democrats have already rolled out a package of bills under the auspices of protecting schoolchildren from deranged murderers armed with high-capacity assault-style weapons. There may even be enough support emanating from across the aisle to see some of those new gun control bills signed into law by President Joe Biden, who has himself pledged to “do something” about America’s peculiar, and persistent, crisis of mass shootings.
Gun violence in America, however, is not confined to spree killers or mass shooters; far from it.
In Chicago, city officials and residents alike are watching grim homicide milestones pass on a regular basis with no real prospects of reversing the rising tide of violent crime sweeping the city.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has, among other things, instituted a curfew. Whether or not this will do any good, and whether or not Chicago PD has the resources to enforce such an order, remains to be seen.
Judging by the past few weeks, neither the curfew nor any other measures city leaders and police officers have taken thus far is stemming the rise in violent crime.
Chicago is grappling with so-called “ghost guns’: Untraceable, illegal firearms with the serial numbers filed-off. These guns are already illegal; making them more illegal isn’t likely to do much good.
Requiring legal gun owners to undergo stricter back-ground checks, making certain types of firearms illegal to buy, sell, or transfer is perhaps sensible, but it isn’t going to make the slightest dent in the flood of illegal guns flowing into the U.S.
Illegal guns are coming from somewhere. They aren’t being sold en masse to criminals by legal gun owners. Guns aren’t being stolen by the hundreds and thousands from gun shows, or gun stores, or from the homes of people who own them.
They are coming into the country from outside; and they are arriving, by and large, through the U.S. southern border.
Illegal guns, drugs- including deadly fentanyl, which is killing more people than gun violence- and human trafficking is pouring over the U.S. border. It is an issue which has almost nothing to do with immigration, or even border control, but for one thing:
Illegal guns, drugs and human trafficking are the reasons for the recent upsurge in immigration to the U.S.
The gun runners, drug cartels, smugglers, and coyotes are precisely danger from which so many refugees at the southern border are fleeing. Preventing illegal guns, drugs, and exploited human beings from being smuggled into the U.S. serves no one better than immigrants and economic refugees fleeing south and central America.
The criminal elements who dog their steps North prey on immigrants who are far from home, in desperate poverty and vulnerable, chief among them women and children.
Violent gun crime doesn’t happen in a vacuum; it is all interrelated, complicated, with many causes and effects.
“In 2020, there was a 29% jump in murder in the United States, nearly 5,000 more people killed than the year before: What is behind this leap in homicide?” FBI Director Christopher Wray was asked last month by 60-Minutes host Scott Pelley.
“Certainly the pandemic didn’t help,” answered Wray. “There’s a variety of ways in which contributed to it.”
FBI Director Wray laid out three causes specifically:
- “More juveniles committing violent crime,” which Mr. Wray called, “certainly an issue.”
- “A certain amount of gun trafficking, interstate gun trafficking,” Wray admitted; “that’s part of it.”
- “An alarming frequency of some of the worst of the worst getting back out on the streets,” Wray told Scott Pelley.
As to the first issue, closing public schools down for two years in places like Chicago, may be having unforeseen consequences.
One of the benefits of public education- which American taxpayers endeavor to pay for at great expense- is the positive net effect an educated population has on society.
An educated society commits fewer crimes, people have more economic opportunities, more earning potential; more tax-paying potential. An educated population automatically has fewer children. Educated people enjoy healthier lives. They live longer. An educated person is far more likely to become an active, productive member of society.
The opposite is also true.
An uneducated population is far less productive, a wasted resource, a million-dollar mansion falling down for want of the most basic of maintenance; lack of education doesn’t benefit the individual, their community, or society at large at all.
As a society, we long ago agreed on the mutually-beneficial foundation of an educated populace. Abandoning that principle, even to prevent the spread of a disease during a pandemic- perhaps especially then- in retrospect, was a bit unwise.
We are only now starting to see how long-term school closures impacted vulnerable populations. One of those vulnerable populations was 15–18 year old students in danger of dropping out.
Those students left school in early Spring of 2020 and never went back.
A semester-sized crack widened up in March 2020 and at-risk students fell right through it. They did not pass go, did not collect $200; they did not participate in the farce that was “remote education,” they did not graduate, let alone develop the educational and interpersonal foundation to go on to college or enter the workforce.
It is a moral dilemma: We are now in the position of punishing young criminals we helped create by depriving them of their right to the kind of meaningful public education so many of us were able to enjoy in full.
We know and acknowledge that a good, solid public education can prepare a dedicated student to succeed in a vocation or career; by doing so, we also tacitly acknowledge that depriving a student of said education would steal future opportunities are leave them with far fewer options for productively contributing to society.
As for Mr. Wray’s third driver of the rise in violent crime the U.S. is experiencing, “the worst of the worst getting back out on the streets,” the FBI is, according to its director, already working hard to address that problem.
“We are working very hard with our partners, state and local law enforcement partners, through task forces, task forces all over the country,” Wray told 60-Minutes. “And through surging rapid deployment teams to try to combat violent crime in specific hot spots. Last year I think we arrested something like 15,000 violent gang members around the country.”
“Part of what fuels us to pursue this mission is our deep conviction that law enforcement’s most sacred duty is to ensure that people can live free from fear in their own homes and neighborhoods,” Mr. Wray said.
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)