Recently, we received word by way of the news media that the rapper Takeoff had been killed. He had achieved a notable amount of popularity. He was popular without counting me in his throngs of fans. I have nothing negative to say about this young man. It’s just that I’ve never been able to down enough rap music to acquire a taste for it. But, enough about rap music. This piece is about murder, killing, the senseless taking of another human being’s life.
I live in Little Rock, Arkansas. Arkansas is a small state somewhere west of the Mississippi River and east of the state of Oklahoma. I was hopeful that Arkansas would become easier to locate on the map when our native son Bill Clinton became the 42nd president of the United States. Somehow, I still think we’re on that road that offers a pass through to other places. Little Rock, however, is gaining a reputation as being a violent city. Google the most violent cities in the country and see where Little Rock falls in the rankings. I don’t totally agree with these rankings. There are some parts of this 200,000-person village that see more violence than necessary, but I don’t live in those areas.
Yesterday, the local news media reported the 71st killing for the year in Little Rock. It looks like we’re on our way to setting a record. No doubt, most of us would prefer some other record-setting activities. I must be fair to my hometown and point out that there’s been an increase in violence in many areas of the United States. Guns are certainly a contributing factor to this. For the life of me, I’ll never understand this insane passion we have for guns in the United States. I would love to wake up one morning and hear news reports of the mysterious disappearance of all guns within the borders of our country. Unfortunately, that would be the only way we would ever be rid of guns, since our right to bear arms is incased in our constitution: “The Second Amendment: A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Since I’m a long way from being a constitutional scholar, I won’t debate exactly what this means. I’m also not a member of any militia. I would say that reasonable regulation of guns in my beloved country, would throw us into some form of outright societal civil conflict.
And so, our pre-occupation with guns and using them to kill each other, continues to place crimson stains in our schools, our places of worship, our homes, our neighborhoods, our public square, and even our sacred halls government. Like so many dynamics that result in loss of life in staggering numbers, drunk driving, smoking and several other dumb things, we’ve attained a state of numbness to reports of senseless shootings in America from the urban plains to pristine suburban patches and beyond. I can lower my head and scratch it in fruitless efforts to produce answers on how to reduce gun violence in my country. There will, no doubt, be news reports of others killed by some gun-toting person before I can raise my head to catch a breath.
I’m old and blessed…hope you will be to.
A tragic situation in your country. It’s very difficult for me (and probably many others over here in Europe) to grasp the concept of the right (or need?) to bear arms in a civilised, western state in the 21st century. Here in Switzerland, most able-bodied men between the ages of 18 and 49 are part of the army, train regularly and keep all their equipment, including guns and rifles, at home. Until 2007, this also included ammunition. We have very few cases of abuse of weapons, though it has happened. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swiss_Armed_Forces for details of how it all works.