2012-07-19 / Telling It Like It Is

Telling It Like It Is

Are We Looking At Problems Behind The Gun Violence?
By Dara Mormile

Those who are sick of seeing reports of shooting incidents spread throughout newspapers like the Canarsie Courier keeping asking, “What's going on in this community?” Typical comments can be heard at bodegas and newsstands around the city and some people have even told me personally that the reason they don't read newspapers or watch the news is because of all the “negativity” published.

You're not going to be able to escape reality that easily with the number of shootings that have occurred since the 4th of July. As of this week, there have probably been over 100 shootings citywide, some which only caused injuries and not deaths. But this is what's going on in your community whether you like it or not. However, I was surprised when Police Commissioner Ray Kelly publicly, and metaphorically, wagged his finger at politicians in minority communities for not doing enough to combat violence on the streets. My first thought was, “What does he expect elected officials to DO in their districts? Patrol the streets every night with police?”

More specifically, Kelly asked why those who hold anti-violence demonstrations are against his stop and frisk policy in their minority communities.

According to a recent statement to the Amsterdam News, A.T. Mitchell, executive director of the East New York-based Man Up and Operation Ceasefire BK ENY said, “Police racial profiling and gun violence are two separate things. It is a distraction for the media and the general public for Kelly to say that black leaders only speak out against one sort of violence. We speak out against police killing our young people and their racially motivated stop, question and frisk, and we speak out against the proliferation of guns in the hands of the youth in depressed neighborhoods. Stop and frisk is used to harass innocent people in the same neighborhoods.”

City Councilman Jumaane Williams held a “Not In My Hood” march in May when hundreds of young people came out to show their support for safe streets. Chances are, the thugs who carry guns illegally and decide to shoot up a local park in the middle of the night DON'T care about these efforts.

What is the root of the problem? Never mind how the person got the gun they used and who they acquired it from. What can be done to stop these suspects from acting out irrationally and opening fire in hopes to “resolve” the dispute they have with someone else? With millions of dollars going toward programs such as Gun Buyback events, all the money in the world isn't teaching youngsters that shooting another human being doesn't just end someone's life – it threatens the feeling of safety and stops people from enjoying their community.

It's fair to say that those who have unresolved vendettas believe that shooting will settle a dispute and put fear into their enemy. It might also be fair to say that most victims know their assailant – and most published reports don't have a description of the shooter because the victim doesn't often cooperate with the police (for whatever shady reason).

The suspects who get hold of an illegal weapon aren't looking to get money for their guns, despite the extra $200 they could have in their pocket for turning in their illegal firearm. Whether it's over drugs, family, a relationship, someone who gave them "the wrong look" or a theft that went awry, gun violence psychologically seems to start when revenge is the only senseless option.

In the November 17th issue of the Canarsie Courier, I wrote my column about District Attorney Charles J. Hynes' Gun Buyback program (Removing Guns From Our Community Is Half The Battle). Even though it's a very successful program, statistics about gun violence in the city contradict how many guns are really being taken off the street.

How is gun violence going to be minimized with public protests and outcries when right at this moment, someone is getting his or her hands on another illegal firearm to "take care of business."

Let's get real. Those who get a hold of illegal guns aren't thinking about Commissioner Kelly or their councilman who just fought to get their community back. No matter what race you are, whether you're a minority or not, and no matter what community you live in, conflict-resolution needs to be taught to youngsters by parents and teachers on a constant basis. We also don't know if the person in possession of a gun is mentally or emotionally stable. Maybe parents can help identify instances where their child can't control or manage his anger at a young age.

As they get older, acting secretively or hanging out with the wrong crowd might also be a sign that street violence is present in their lives. You'll sometimes see neighbors interviewed on television who say that so-and-so, who was shot outside their home, was “a wonderful, loving person who didn't deserve to be shot.” Is there something NO ONE knew about these victims? Was there something they were mixed up in that was never made known to their family or friends?

I'm not a psychologist, but sometimes it seems that there are deeper problems generating gun violence that politicians and activists can't do anything about. Stop and frisk is a good random approach to getting guns off the street, but it's not permanently solving the problem of dangerous persons presently lurking in the community.

Tired of seeing stories of shootings in the papers? The countless stories will end when the senseless, irrational violence ceases in our communities.

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