Wednesday Reading List: Gun Violence is a Gun Problem

Isabelle Robinson, a student from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, writes in The New York Times, dispelling myths about disturbed students:

... students should not be expected to cure the ills of our genuinely troubled classmates, or even our friends, because we first and foremost go to school to learn. The implication that Mr. Cruz’s mental health problems could have been solved if only he had been loved more by his fellow students is both a gross misunderstanding of how these diseases work and a dangerous suggestion that puts children on the front line. It is not the obligation of children to befriend classmates who have demonstrated aggressive, unpredictable or violent tendencies. It is the responsibility of the school administration and guidance department to seek out those students and get them the help that they need, even if it is extremely specialized attention that cannot be provided at the same institution.

Is mental health an important issue that ought to be addressed, by both education and healthcare professionals? Of course. Is bullying a significant problem, which takes a toll on the mental health of young people? Yes, definitely.

Neither of these things, however, are responsible for the 17 children who were murdered in Parkland.

Easy access to guns did that. Period. 

Any attempt to deflect this discussion away from guns is a willful evasion of the violent truth. Don't get played.

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In the meantime, we learned yesterday that justice is not forthcoming for another victim of gun violence. Prosecutors in Louisiana will not charge the officers who murdered Alton Sterling: 

State Attorney General Jeff Landry’s decision not to charge the officers followed the Justice Department’s announcement in May that there would be no federal civil rights charges against the officers because of insufficient evidence. “This decision was not taken lightly,” Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said during a news briefing Tuesday morning. He added: “I know the Sterling family is hurting. I know that they may not agree with this decision.” The decision drew condemnation from civil rights activists who note that, more than three years after the unrest in Ferguson, Mo. brought national attention to police killings, the number of officers prosecuted for fatal shootings remains vanishingly small.

In the meantime, here's The Los Angeles Times with a gun trafficking story:

Two Gardena police officers have been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of using their position to acquire firearms and illegally selling more than 100 of the weapons to others, including a convicted felon. Det. Carlos Miguel Fernandez, 42, Officer Edward Yasushiro Arao, 47, face a combined five felony counts, including conspiring to deal in firearms without a license, according to the indictment unsealed Friday in U.S. District Court. In one 2017 sale, Fernandez knew he was selling to a straw buyer who wasn't the actual person getting the gun, according to the indictment. The person who eventually received the weapon was a convicted felon banned from possessing firearms.

I juxtapose these two articles, because we need to understand that our criminal justice system is doing very little to solve our problem of gun violence ... and I would argue that an increased police presence is exacerbating the problem, by contributing to the cycle of violence.

Gun violence will not be solved by being nicer to people, or putting more cops on the street, or making schools look more like prisons.

We will stop gun violence when we get rid of most of the guns.

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In other news, Linda Brown - of the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case - died this week. Josh Stewart of Citizen Ed did a roundup of articles and statements, reflecting her legacy as the namesake of America's most significant attempt at racial desegregation.

The bravery required of Brown and her family was stunning, and it's humbling to remember that their efforts happened so recently in our history. And it's depressing to remember that, despite their heroism, our schools and neighborhoods are more segregated now than they were in the aftermath of the Supreme Court's decision.

Have a thoughtful day ...