It’s always the guns and never the mess we’ve made is an excellent column by Phil Kadner in today’s Chicago Sun-Times. It was sent to me by reader Tom Matza. Thanks, Tom.
Blaming guns ignores the real problem and stalls the solution. Mr. Kadner makes a powerful statement. It’s not the guns, it’s the person holding the gun that causes the killing. The focus must be on the people doing the killing and what made them that way.
In Chicago and other dysfunctional places in America it’s the near total breakdown of culture. The most horrendous fruit of this poisonous tree is the slew of shootings by mind-warped young people. This includes more than just school shootings and other types of mass shootings. It includes the nightly shootings by gang members and some not even in gangs. Culture rot is the real villain here, not the gun which is just a inanimate tool which, likely any other tool, can be misused by criminals.
Kadner recounts the story of a child many years ago who shot other children sitting on the steps of a Chicago park district field house. The killer didn’t know them, had no animus against them. He shot them because the gang he wanted to join told him to do it. His sweet, innocent babyface belied his lack of emotion or remorse, he eyes were vacant and dead. How does this happen? Boys need and want fathers to guide them. If they don’t have one in their home they’ll try to satisfy their need by joining a gang. It’s the tragic destruction of the lives of both the shooters and their victims.
On “the mess we’ve made” Kadner gets to the heart of his essay, focusing on guns just allows the rot to continue:
We can’t do anything about the drugs, can’t do anything about the schools, can’t do anything about the gangs and the child abuse.
Let’s all focus on the guns.
The public schools have been a mess for decades, failing generations of children. Now they’re actually a filthy mess.
Keep the focus on those guns. It makes us feel better about ourselves while the lives of so many children slowly rot.
Since we’re on Chicago, here is another excellent description of the Chicago problem: Gangs and Politicians in Chicago: An Unholy Alliance by David Bernstein and Noah Isackson in Chicago Magazine, December 13, 2011.
And here’s a video discussing that seminal article: