Friday, May 02, 2014

The Tale Of The Gun

A fourteen-year-old girl was shot dead in Chicago by another girl. The police are saying that the pair were fighting over a boy.

How did a young girl get her hands on a weapon?
.38 Special revolver

The answer to that question has evolved into a winding tale of the gun, from its purchase by an adult through a string of related owners, all adults. All capable of stopping the gun's journey. All capable of marching on the street, demanding an end to gun violence against children. But, in the end, the gun traveled anyway, in spite of all the outcry.

Reporters with the Chicago Tribune have been tracking the gun, to determine where it came from and how it got into the hands of a girl upset over something tragically unimportant. There are so many laws in place to keep weapons out of the hands of children, so how did the law fail?

The law can't do much on its own. Laws are just a bunch of words, and if responsible people don't follow the law, it makes no difference how many ministers decry violence from the pulpit, or launch protests at Police Headquarters. They are barking at the wrong people, it turns out.

A man bought a gun legally and then sold it illegally. He then said the gun was stolen, a lie. The buyer moved the gun along on its trip, and maybe there were more buyers in between. At any rate, the gun ended up in the possession of Donnell Flora.

Donnell Flora uses a wheelchair because he was left paralyzed after getting shot four years ago. He thought it was a brilliant idea to arm his niece with a .38 Special when she declared she was going to fight a friend over a boy. Donnell Flora could have told his niece she was stupid or foolish. To forget about the boy, he wasn't worth it. Instead, he gave her a gun. Got himself on a bus to deliver the gun to her.

Laws against guns do nothing to stop gun violence if people don't follow the law. From every point in its journey to the Back of the Yards neighborhood, that gun was helped along by those who did not care about the law. They did not see themselves as players in a deadly journey.

It's easy to write laws that don't work in the end. So how do we change a culture?

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