CNN reports on the latest fatal shooting which happened in Newark NJ. 15-year-old Bukhari Washington was shot through the head while sleeping when his downstairs neighbor accidentally fired the semiautomatic rifle he'd bought for protection.
It is a discouraging turn of events for Mayor Cory A. Booker, who has staked his administration on reducing violent crime and creating programs to help at-risk youth.
"Obviously it is frustrating when guns injure or kill people, but when a young person is hurt, it is a deeper blow," Booker said this week. "We are making strides, but at times your success is punctuated by incidents like this that show how much more work there is to be done."
Our friend and frequent commenter Weer'd Beard, who has a wonderful blog by the way, has objected several times to this kind of talk, an idea with which I completely agree. Guns only injure or kill people when one of the people pulls the TRIGGER. I believe this point has been made to me in an attempt to ensure that I don't demonize the guns as evil objects, responsible for the violence. Other commenters, namely Nomen Nescio and Bob S., have made the same point. I get it, truly.
The mayor's point, though, is very clear. They're striving to bring down the criminal activity in Newark, with some good results and this case marks a tragic setback. There have been others.
Washington's death called to mind the slaying earlier in the summer of 18-year-old Sujeiti Ocasio, who was fatally shot hours after graduating from high school, allegedly by another teenage girl with whom she'd had a dispute.
And this one.
The city's most notorious slayings happened a year ago. Assailants shot three college-bound students execution-style behind a deserted middle school after an attempted robbery. A fourth person was also shot in the head but survived.
In Newark it's the proverbial two steps forward and one step back.
Still, the proliferation of illegal guns often seems insurmountable. Last Friday, police raided a public housing complex and seized a small cache of weapons from an abandoned apartment.
The haul included two semiautomatic assault rifles of the type allegedly used by Perry, plus dozens of rounds of ammunition, a 12-gauge shotgun, a .357-caliber revolver and a 9mm handgun, along with a bulletproof vest.
In recent discussions, here and here, we've mainly talked about legal guns. One concern of mine is that some of them end up in the hands of criminals, reducing the overall numbers might help that. I haven't made much headway with my eloquent and convincing commenters. Not yet, anyway.
Here, on the other hand, we're talking about illegal guns. The accidental perpetrator of this crime, although he had no prior convictions, was illegally in possession of the weapon. I believe all the other references to gun ownership in this story are of the criminal variety.
What's to be done? Lock up those bums; throw away the key? I don't think that's working very well in Texas. And not only in Texas where it's not working. When it comes to inner city black or Hispanic offenders, that's throw-away-the-key mentality prevails in many places. It's not working.
I'm not proposing answers. I'm leaving the question out there: what's to be done?