Rash of violence follows the Fourth of July

There was a mass shooting in Broad Ripple when, as I understand it, a couple of patrons bumped into each other and decided to resolve their differences with lead; a police officer was killed in Indianapolis by a guy toting a high powered rifle; a Gary officer was shot in his patrol car; and two men were shot in Lafayette while sitting on their porch in what has been described as a “walk by” shooting. Prior to the Fourth, an individual was arrested in Lafayette after he posted threats to kill a West Lafayette police officer, the Tippecanoe county Sheriff, and two judges as well as a threat related to blowing up the Tippecanoe County Court House. A search of the man’s home revealed aluminum powder and black iron oxide – both substances used to make thermite.

In response to some of these incidents, Sen. Jim Merritt has indicated that he intends to push for legislation next session that would dramatically increase penalty enhancements for criminals that use a gun.

Rep. Jud McMillin is skeptical of an approach that just enhances penalties:

Rep. Jud McMillin, R-Brookville, sponsored last session’s gun crime enhancement bill and is one of the architects of the state’s criminal code overhaul. He says the legislature can’t only focus on punishing crimes after the fact.

“It’s not as simple as just throwing the book at somebody after it happens,” McMillin says. “And even if it is, you’re still handling it after it happens…and we want to prevent these things from happening in the first place.”

McMillin says lawmakers need to focus on helping treat mental health issues and addiction, which he says are often at the root of these crimes.

Despite the apparent surge in newsworthy violence, I think the overall trend is that crime is down. So, it’s entirely possible that we are safer these days even as the world feels less safe. So, some caution is perhaps in order when we devise policy responses. On the other hand, the U.S. has troubles with gun violence that no other developed country seems to have. As the Onion put it, “‘No way to prevent this,’ says only nation where this regularly happens.'” Sure, there are bad actors everywhere. But the ready availability of firearms enhances the force available to these people and the availability of similar force to good actors doesn’t seem to mitigate the damage all that much. Regardless of how the cost/benefit shakes out, the Second Amendment puts an additional wrinkle in the calculation. Even if we decide that the wide availability of firearms is a net harm to our society, short of Constitutional amendment, what remedies are available to us?

Comments

  1. says

    I recall a mission trip to El Salvador around 10 years ago. One night, our host family took us out for ice cream.

    The ice cream shop – and a pretty nice once even by American standards – had two guards, armed with assault rifles, outside.

    I fear this is where America is headed.

  2. says

    The young man who gunned down officer Renn only had misdemeanors on his record. I don’t know if the assault weapon he used was his own, but legally he could purchase that gun, and he would have qualified for a concealed carry license, too. The notion of “tougher penalties for criminals that use guns” supposes that all of these people carrying out gun violence are people with felony records – i.e. black people who have been caught up in the criminal justice system. That isn’t necessarily the case. And not all white people who own guns have spotless records, either.

    There are a lot of people talking about how to get the guns out of the hands of “young black thugs” but they certainly don’t want to make it harder to get guns for themselves. So what is the methodology here? Charge young black men with stiffer crimes when they’re picked up? More racial profiling?

    How do we know that the people who pulled guns on each other in Broad Ripple weren’t courageous patriots using their weapons in self-defense when they saw an injustice being committed? Maybe because they were black?

    • Dave Z says

      The AK-47 was his mothers weapon by purchase documents. The suspects in the Broadripple shooting have yet to be found, but it has been confirmed that it started because two individuals bumped into each other (and I can only assume argued about whose fault it was).

      The point about stiffer penalties is not about whether or not Mr. Davis had a felony background. It’s whether in that moment that a weapon was used in the commission of an alleged crime the penalty – if found guilty – will be tougher. This has nothing to do with race, gender, or social classification.

      There are several things we need to address as a community-at-large. One of the top priorities is conflict resolution skills. The second is trust in our law enforcement again. There are also social issues like wage inequality and the lack of importance put on trade employment which – in some cases – provide more annual income than a starting entry-level position. And yes, we also need to talk about gun control.

      Violent crime is not a one issue problem or solution. It is extremely complex and we cannot be afraid, as a society, to address all facets of a challenge to make our communities safer. I hope we can do this.

  3. Freedom says

    “And not all white people who own guns have spotless records, either.”

    With the ubiquitous cops and suffocating policing, nobody has a spotless record.

  4. says

    People in Indiana are upset that police are getting killed, yet they are OK with laws that spell out when you’re allowed to kill the police. I guess it’s not a matter of whether they get killed. It’s just a matter of timing and style.

  5. says

    “Well-regulated militia” is in the first sentence. In the words of Toby Ziegler (aka Aaron Sorkin): “I don’t think the founders meant three guys in a Dodge Durango.” The solution is there in front of us. But we have a citizenry that is collectively terrible at both reading and critical thinking, so they are going to keep allowing “the vagueness” in the 2nd protect their bullshit “right”.

    • Freedom says

      ““Well-regulated militia” is in the first sentence.”

      The Second Amendment is only one sentence.

      Broaden your imagination. A Dodge Durango is a very capable implement. Categorize all the tasks it can perform, and you’ll find it’s quite a formidable engineering accomplishment. I’m certain General Washington would have been thankful for the use of Dodge Durangos in the Battle of New York City.

      “The solution is there in front of us.”

      Indeed, but you deny it.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_battles_by_casualties

      Note when firearms appeared in significant numbers on the world stage.

      The solution is right in front of us, but we will never be able to grasp it, because we are doomed to grasp it by bringing ourselves along, causing the solution to elude our grasp, once more.

      Blaming firearms or other causes merely allows us temporarily to feel smug and comfortable by avoiding the horror of reality.

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