Gun violence is spiking because, frankly, we just don’t care

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times @mikemcgannpa

The texts from my daughter happen every few days: “There was a shooting. I’m safe.” She — like her twin brother — is a senior at Temple University.

The two of them live about 10 blocks apart in North Philly, but gunfire has become a pretty regular event for both, distressingly. Obviously, it scares the hell of out of me, but both are where they want to be.

And yes, crime — particularly shootings — are way up in Philadelphia. Despite the claims of some disreputable people — including some candidates for office this year — the spike in crime is not from budget cuts. The Philly PD got quite a boost in funding this year.

And as much as people want to blame this on President Joe Biden, the spike in crime started in 2020 when Donald Trump was president, so it’s not any one policy causing this crime spike. And we’re seeing the spike across the country — homicide rates are even higher per capita in so-called “red states.”

Some of it comes from people being angry — the pandemic, the structural discrimination against minorities among other issues, too many people feeling lost, frustrated and helpless (which also explains the spike in car accidents and road rage incidents). 

Some of it in Philly comes — and I’m going to be blunt here — from crappy, disconnected policing. The Philadelphia Police Department is one of the nation’s worst. While there are many great officers, there are too many who are corrupt, too many who are lazy and too many who just don’t care. These bad officers are protected by their unions.

In truth, though, the Philly PD has been awful and corrupt for decades. It certainly was when I lived in the city in the 1990s.

And yes, the social media driven phenomena of flash mob robberies is new and annoying, but it’s less common than some in the media would have you believe. 

So, other than people being angry and social media driving the stupid, not much has really changed.

Okay, there is one thing:

We’re flooded with guns, some 400 million nationally. And too many people who never should get their hands on guns find it way too easy to get one and they tend to do bad things with them. We don’t have laws that require people to report lost and stolen guns (an excuse some folks use to sell off guns to people they know shouldn’t have them, but they like the cash premium they get for selling their “lost” guns). 

We don’t have universal background checks. People who would never pass a background check can go to a gun show and buy what they want. Or they buy one — at a premium — from a straw purchaser. There’s also “ghost” guns — guns built from parts ordered on the Internet, no serial numbers, no background checks, no accountability.

So, we can’t even do the bare minimum: universal background checks and require gun owners to report stolen or lost guns. These two measures — supported by the vast majority of people — keep getting shut down by big gun money and feckless politicians.

So we have criminals and mentally unstable people with guns they shouldn’t have. What was a fist fight a few years ago, now becomes a shooting.  

Sure, we should do even more to prevent gun violence — but we can’t even do the bare minimum, even though it is something the vast majority of people want.

A few weeks back, my daughter told me about a close call: some knucklehead decided to randomly shoot into a club, two blocks from Temple’s campus, apparently frustrated by being unable to break into an ATM. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured, but it left my daughter a bit shook.

I don’t want to hear “shall not be infringed.” It’s bull. Even the U.S. Supreme Court case Heller made it clear that guns can be regulated. Further, the recent interpretation of the Second Amendment is also misguided. It was intended for a time when people were expected to be part of the home militia — a “well-regulated militia” as is also specified.

We could do common sense simple reforms. But we won’t.

And so the texts will keep coming from my kids. I just pray the day never comes when it isn’t a text, but a knock on the door or a phone call from the police telling me something awful has happened.

Thoughts and prayers. Since we can’t do anything real, that’s all we have.

When did we become such a sad and ineffective country and when did people become OK with it happening? 

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One Comment

  1. Gene Ralno says:

    I wonder if any targets or witnesses to these shootings returned fire. If not, it’s the same old whine. When bad guys loot and burn legitimate businesses, victims rarely shoot them. When illegal aliens violate national borders, nobody shoots them. When criminals grab someone on the street, they’re rarely armed. When criminals harm people, they should be shot. In time, they’ll understand and the misery will stop. Until then, most of us little people are victims of the big guys.

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