No Guns, No Glory

Two shooting events that occured early last Sunday morning have dominated the headlines this week. One involved an apparent carjacking attempt where Dallas Cowboy safety Keith Davis was shot twice as he drove his Impala along 635. The other was a fatal shooting that occured at Club Angel in downtown Dallas. Two people died and 4 were hurt in what apparently ended up as a beef between rival gangs. Throughout the week media outlets have speculated on both incidents.

In the case of Davis, some have found it odd that anyone would attempt a carjacking speeding down LBJ Freeway. The sports talk shows have been skeptical, in part because Davis was shot outside of a Dallas strip club in 2003. Though Davis was hospitalized due to the injuries suffered in shooting, he is expected to be ready to go for Cowboys Training Camp.

Sunday mornings shooting at Club Angel has spawned a number of debates. On Radio Station “Heaven 97”, 970 AM, I heard two former gang members discussing why so many young men choose to be part of the gang life. They speculated that whoever did the shooting considers it a game, and probably went to the playground laughing about the crime he committed.

Dallas Morning News Columnist Steve Blow, with the help of the Dallas Police Department, took the discussion to a new level with his rant Still Believe It’s Harmless Music? Blow indicted rap music as the driving force behind the malee that broke out. He based this indictment on information he received at a Dallas Police Department news conference on Monday. He basically suggested a warrant for the arrest of Lil’ Jon and The East Side Boyz as being the main culprits in the senseless murders that occured at Club Angel. DPD says all hell broke loose when the DJ decided to spin Lil’ Jon’s ” Put Yo Hood Up.” According to police, this apparently ended a truce the rival gangs had struck at the beginning of the evening.

In any isolated case, individuals must be held accountable for the choices that they make. Those who choose to disharge their weapons must be procecuted, that’s a given. We can gossip about whether Keith Davis’ story adds up, or debate the role that “rap” music played in the deaths on Sunday. But in order to try to prevent either incident, I think we should step back and look at the big picture here. We are seeing the fruits of America’s second most prevalent addiction (President Bush states that Oil is #1).

America is addicted to guns.

There’s no way around it, there are too many guns floating around available for any and everyone. How do these people even get guns? I’m fully aware that 2nd Amendment of the Bill of Rights expresses the right of the people to keep and bear arms . The NRA would be quick to remind us that these rights shall not be infringed. But the rights were never meant for carjackers and gang members. I’ve never understood the hardline positions of the gun toting community and why they refuse to give in to this point.

Among industrialized countries, American far and away exceeds other nations when it comes to gun related fatalities. Take a look at the number of gun deaths in other countries first:

Death By Firearms (1999)

Country, Deaths (Total Population)
Great Britan, 68 (59 million)
France, 255 (59 million)
Germany, 381 (82 million)
Canada, 165 (30 million)
Japan, 39 (126 million)

United States, 28,874 (280 million)

By 2001 the number of deaths due to firearms in the US had risen to 29,573. Of those 16,869 of those deaths were due to suicides, and 11,671 were due to homicides. Can you blame all these deaths on Lil’ Jon? Could rap music be the blame for the deaths of nearly 30,000 Americans each year. Gun violence is in no way a new phenomenon, what is new is those perpitrating the crimes and how they carry out those crimes.

D0 you remember the commercials for the Time/Life Old West Book Series? Besides glorifying the personas of western gunslingers, they perpetuated myths like Billy the Kid shooting a man “just for snoring too loud.” The legends of Billy “The Kid”, Frank and Jesse James, Belle Starr and others were built on marksmanship, and furthered by murders. There are hundreds of books and websites that look fondly on the era.

The 1920’s and 30’s brought Al Capone, as well as Bonnie and Clyde. Scores of books, movies, and museums all buy glorify the ruthless lifestyles of these promienent historical figures.

Blame Rap Music? How about Hollywod’s contribution to this addiction. The Godfather movies are considered an American Classics, some of the best movies ever made. Many list The Godfather I and II among their favorite movies, along with Scarface (say hello to my lil’ friend) another movie with a high fire arm factor. I think about Mr. and Mrs. Smith, which focused on the marital problems of two cold-blooded assasssins, using the dozens that they shot down throughout the movie only to further the love story.

America needs to look in the mirror, and stop looking for scapegoats. We should be truthful about the history in order to gain a better perspective on the present, and create solutions for the future. Looking at those telling gun death totals should strike a cord with anyone, and lead to the conclusion that something is horribly awry. The first step to overcoming any addiction is to admit that you have one. I suggest something like…”Hi, I’m the United States of America, and I am a Gun Addict.” That would be a good start.

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