Violence more of social problem than gun problem

Published 10:19 am Wednesday, January 30, 2013

To the Editor:

Let’s take a look at the firearm regulation issue on a Virginia local level.

Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Tim Kaine were in Richmond last week to discuss gun control. Richmond, where Kaine once served as mayor, is a good place to study.

Let’s consider abuse and terrorizing of Richmond’s neighborhood residents.

It appears a concentration of firearms abuse abounds within certain neighborhoods of both large and small communities. That’s Franklin, too, folks.

We can quickly identify areas within our cities that are inhabited by high energy, disenfranchised, restless youths. Seeking both peer status and hope for some degree of personal security and protection, they do mayhem around their community.

The problem is more of a social behavioral one than inadequate firearms regulation.

Rather than writing more restrictive firearms legislation, we should address the real issues.

Why are they so belligerent and mean spirited? Why do they band together, seeking status, survival and protection? Why are they so callous in their wanton disregard for life, theirs and their neighbors?

Why do they harbor such resentments and feelings of exclusion? Why are they unemployable? How much does single parenting, if there is any parenting at all, figure into this problem?

Although it may take many years to address all the “whys,” there is one thing that can start immediately. Prosecute abusers of firearms.

The laws exist. Criminals are rarely prosecuted vigorously to the full extent of penalties. To even threaten with a firearm constitutes aggravated assault, a felony. Any crime involving a firearm is a serious felony.

What finances and fuels this departure from normal civil society? Primarily it’s criminal behavior. That takes many forms, from “thuggery,” stealing, or better yet, attempts to operate an organized business model.

Not welcomed into normal business venues these rejects have no visible means of support. That unfortunately leaves drugs, gambling and larceny.

To gain status within their group, they perform outlandish acts of mayhem. This allows them to make their “bones.”

Driven by a disregard for life and an over exaggeration of their own worth, the murderous acts performed by them does bolster their ranking within their group.

Folks residing and working amongst them live under a constant siege of terror. Neighborhood streets, yards, playgrounds and local shops are constantly exposed to their firearm violence and terror.

John Murphy