Crime scene gun

(AP Photo/The Boston Globe, Aram Boghosian, Pool)

A recent op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer titled ‘It’s time to treat gun violence like the public health emergency it is‘ sounds predictably tedious — spoiler alert: it is — but it’s not only that. Although you can probably get the gist of the piece’s slant from its title, there’s more here.

The young, aimless men who shoot up our city night after night need to feel the pain of the destruction they leave in their wake.

It wouldn’t stop the ceaseless carnage, but they at least need to see the tears their actions cause.

Here’s the thing about trying to make criminals feel for their victims. As the late Dr. William Aprill frequently reminded us, “They are not like you” when referring to the behavior and actions of violent criminals. They don’t think like we do, they don’t have the same moral code we do, and they don’t suffer remorse like we would.

To them, violence is a way of life whether it’s carried out for profit, as revenge over an imagined slight, or to defend turf or street cred.

The op-ed’s author, Jenice Armstrong, writes about the grief felt by friends and family of those who have been killed in crimes involving firearms. She naturally refers to these crimes as “gun violence” and she means violence committed by people using guns. These are gang- and drug-related shootings she’s describing and she wonders what can be done about it:

I’ve been writing about this issue for years and remain convinced that limiting the number of illegal guns would go a long way. But since that’s not happening any time soon, we need to figure out what can be done in the meantime.

We need the same all-hands-on-deck approach to gun violence that we have given the COVID-19 pandemic.

Armstrong lives in Philadelphia. In September 2020 a resolution was adopted asking the city’s mayor, Jim Kinney, to commit to a plan to deal with gun violence. The resolution itself reads . . .

Calling on Mayor James F. Kenney to declare gun violence a citywide emergency and develop an urgent, unrelenting response to the gun violence epidemic plaguing Black and Brown neighborhoods in Philadelphia, and re-affirming the commitment of the City Council of Philadelphia to continue collaborating with, and supporting the work of, the Mayor, our City agencies, the criminal justice community, and non-governmental partners, to mitigate this deadly epidemic.

Apparently nothing has come of this. Surprised?

There’s no suggestion in Armstrong’s piece of what should be done about “gun violence” in the City of Brotherly Love, whether it’s related to criminals or not. Mentions that “illegal guns” need to be limited shines a light on her level of naivete, though.

Those guns are already illegal. They’re probably stolen and carried without permits by those who can’t legally do so. People who have been prohibited from owning firearms due to past criminal convictions.

There’s no doubt a huge number of “illegal guns” in Philly, a never-ending stream, in fact. Why? Because criminals act criminally. Is there subtext here about imposing more gun control laws, which only affect law-abiding gun owners, in order to try to hinder the actions of the criminals Armstrong wrings her hands over? You decide.

The vast majority of criminals are never going to be made to “feel bad” about their crimes, violent or otherwise. They are not you, Ms. Armstrong. It just doesn’t work that way. Of course, that’s just my opinion. What do you think? Will somehow trying to guilt-trip violent criminals onto the straight and narrow make them feel remorse for what they’ve done and change their ways?

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