Making Sense of a
Senseless Week: Race, Guns, Police or Is It 1968 Again?

By

Leonard Zwelling

         It was surely one of the most depressing weeks in America
since September 11, 2001 and more resembled 1968 than any other recent period.

         In 1968, both Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were
assassinated within 2 months of each other and the cities of America burned
with racial tension and real violence. In August, the riots in the streets of
Chicago pitted the local police against the long-haired anti-war demonstrators
while the “ whole world was watching.” Things have been worse for race
relations and the relationship between the police and those the police pledge
to protect than they are now. But they are pretty bad right now. Two black men
were killed by police for no apparent reason yet revealed and then five police
officers are gunned down during a peaceful demonstration in Dallas. Now, Baton Rouge again.

         To quote Marvin Gaye, “What’s goin’on?”

         First, I refuse to take sides. There is more than enough bad
behavior to go around. The Black Lives Matter people have a point, but so do
the Blue Lives Matter people. Clearly, certain, but certainly rare, instances
of police violence against black men have occurred. But a recent front-page
story in the NY Times indicates that
lethal force is NOT disproportionately heaped on black men by the police,
although other forms of police aggression are:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/12/upshot/surprising-new-evidence-shows-bias-in-police-use-of-force-but-not-in-shootings.html?_r=0

         Second, while I truly understand the arguments about Second
Amendment rights, consider how fortunate it was that those law abiding citizens
at the demonstration in Dallas who had guns and even displayed them legally under
open carry laws were not shot by the police in error. We really do need to
rethink the right to bear a gun at a demonstration and what the consequences
might be if shooting occurs as to how the police will be able to sort out the
good guys from the bad guys.

         Third, the shooter in Dallas had an automatic weapon and
body armor. Do private citizens really need access to such implements of war?

         Fourth, you have to be impressed with Dallas Police Chief
Brown and the rest of American law enforcement. For the most part, the cops are
over worked, under paid, and expectations of them are too high. If we are going
to allow everyone to wield a gun, we should not be surprised that the police
are a bit frightened of everyone, even those they are pledged to serve and
protect. (See Sister Noonan’s latest:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/three-good-men-talk-about-race-1468536387)

         My suspicions are that now that Presidents Obama and Bush
have left Dallas, so has the impetus to change anything on the ground. That’s
unfortunate, but it is the reality of ADHD, Pokemon Go America and its elected
representatives rushing to get out of DC for the rest of the summer with so
much left undone.

         I don’t know what it will take to enact some rational gun
laws with regard to background checks, no-fly, no-buy, ammunition purchase
through the internet, and open license to sell arms at gun shows, but these
seem like fairly obvious changes that would be good for the country and not
deny anyone the right to a hunting rifle or a small arm for self-defense and
home protection.

         This blogger has written often about the need for better gun
control laws while preserving the Second Amendment. These latest events do not
change my mind.

         I sincerely fear nothing will come of any of the grief and
sorrow the country has had to bear for the past week. I just cannot understand
what it will take to get the Congress to act. I guess a counterbalance to the
NRA. It should be the doctors. The current gun laws are a threat to the
physical well-being of the population and a public health crisis. It should be
dealt with like one, for guns kill more people than Ebola in America.

         Why can’t the NIH give grants for research on stopping gun
violence? More people die from guns than from prostate cancer each year. Think
about that!

Leonard Zwelling