It feels like a massive storm has descended upon us, a storm of biblical proportions. For more than 40 days and 40 nights we have endured. Mercifully, the George Floyd jury found former Officer Chauvin guilty on Tuesday 4/20. Without that, our boat may have swamped.
No sooner than the skies started to clear with that verdict, actually about 20 minutes before its announcement, here in my own Columbus another tragedy befell us. Ma’Khia Bryant was shot to death by a police officer. She was a 16 year old African-American girl in the act of swinging a knife at another girl in the midst of an apparent brawl. All caught on body camera. Further, the officer, himself, was but a kid, a 23 years old and on the force one year.
Tragedy is the norm these days, and bullets were also raining in this town on the previous Saturday, 4/17. In an event worthy of much more attention, LaToya Renee Carpenter, 32, died when struck in the head by a stray while driving to pick up her 11 year old at 7:30 pm. Ironically, a vigil was in process on the southeast side for a homicide that occurred one year previously in a “drug deal gone bad” according to The Columbus Dispatch and police reports. An SUV drove by this vigil, and sprayed the small group with bullets injuring 9 and killing LaToya while in the act of being a good mother—her daughter now motherless and her fiancé without a partner.
Black lives do matter, and very sadly they are being wasted on all fronts. The Violence Data Brief for Franklin County compiled by the City of Columbus informs us that African-Americans are 10 times more likely to be hospitalized by firearms-related assault than Whites. Black men are 14 times more likely to die by gun violence than white men—48.4 to 3.4 per 100,000. Latoya Carpenter’s death was the 60th this year, a full two months ahead of last year’s record-setting pace of 170 homicides for this city. Almost 75% of U.S. homicides are committed with a gun.
And indeed they are. We are also amidst a tsunami of mass murder.
Atlanta, March 16; 8 shot dead at spas by a man seeking to solve his sex addiction by eliminating the temptation, according to him.
Bolder, March 22; 10 killed while shopping for groceries by a man prone to outbursts of rage.
Rock Hill, South Carolina, April 7; 6 killed (two of which children), shot for no apparent reason by a man mentally ill ever since his professional football career, contends his father.
Indianapolis, April 15; 8 killed at a Fed Ex terminal by a pimpled 19 year old whose mother had legally removed a shotgun from his possession only to have him buy new assault rifles to commit this blood-letting.
So, what to do? There are many things that could be done and many things that should be tried. New police training, removal of officers with questionable records, discontinuation of the use of police as the initial and primary intervention in mental health and domestic problems. Even minor traffic issues are not always best resolved by the intervention of a white man with badge and gun.
And what of the guns themselves? Too many, too easy to get, too easy to use, too carelessly owned, too powerful for any reasonable purpose. It’s time to rebuild our flood walls and stop the flow of these vile devices. If only they were just used for hunting and self-defense! No real right need be violated to stem these waters.
There is too much death in our time. I’m drowning. We’re drowning! Efforts will continue to mitigate this disaster. Please help. More votes will be taken, petitions signed, more marches will be held, and we need to be there. My sign will say, “Too Much Violence, Too Many Guns.”