During the 2020 lockdowns, things were relatively quiet from a criminal standpoint. It wasn’t that crime wasn’t happening, but a lot of violent crime wasn’t. After all, most of the potential targets of such crime were staying at home amid concerns over COVID-19.
But then all that went out the window when riots swept across the nation in the wake of the death of George Floyd. See, as bad as the rioting was, it also marked the end of the media’s initial fearmongering over the virus. People suddenly felt like it was fine to go out and do again. After all, if the virus wouldn’t hurt those burning their communities to the ground, why would it hurt them.
Along with that, though, came a new wave of violent crime that made previous crime rates pale in comparison.
Now, despite the virus still being a thing, some are trying to claim there’s another public health crisis that needs to be addressed. So-called gun violence.
Like many Delawareans, Marie Pinkney has a personal connection to gun violence. Her first teenage love, a boy named Zachary, was shot in the back of the head and killed just days after 20th birthday.
“Unfortunately, my story and experiences don’t stop there,” Pinkney, now a Delaware state senator told her colleagues recently during an online legislative session.
She went on to describe others killed by guns: a close friend’s uncle who committed suicide and another friend’s cousin who was struck and killed by gunfire.
Those experiences were the backdrop for the freshman senator’s first resolution, introduced last month in the General Assembly.
“I think it’s imperative that we declare gun violence a public health crisis in our state because that’s what it is,” she said.
Now, I get Pinkey wanting to do something.
However, the phrase “do something” may be one of the most dangerous phrases in American politics because it’s a driver toward bad policy. The pressure to “do something” means people don’t take care in making sure that something will not just do what it’s intended, but also lack horrendous ramifications.
Pinkey’s desire to do something is understandable, but that doesn’t mean we should be blaming the tool used and treating it like a disease.
Luckily, some in Delaware aren’t on board with this plan.
“You continue to refer to gun violence when, in fact, the gun wasn’t the culprit,” said Sen. Dave Lawson. “Society is at blame here, not the tool. If the wrench doesn’t fit the bolt when you’re working on the engine, what do you do? Charge the wrench for being inappropriate?”
He says he would whole-heartedly support a resolution if it was calling out all violence, rather than singling out incidents involving guns.
“I want to jump on board to absolutely curb violence in this state,” he said. “But let’s not pick on an inanimate object that is incapable of doing anything by itself. A loaded firearm sitting on a table hurts no one.”
Lawson is, of course, absolutely correct.
See, the phrase “gun violence” is the wrong focus for any effort. The effort should be toward violence in general because I promise you if you lose someone you care about to violence, you really don’t give a damn what the weapon used is. You’re not going to feel better because your loved one was bludgeoned to death or stabbed. “Well, at least they weren’t shot. That’s something.”
Yet this move to try and make “gun violence” a public health concern is still troubling. It’s an attempt to focus on the gun, to pretend this case of “do something” is driven by a public health need, is nothing more than an attempt to try and shift people’s thinking about firearms. After all, if health is on the line, a lot of people are more than willing to ignore the Constitution.
As such, this kind of thing needs to be shouted down each and every time it comes up. After all, while the last year has been bad for violence, violent crime has been trending downward for more than 20 years. If this is a public health concern, it’s one that’s generally been on the decline. In fact, it’s been in decline during a period of liberalizing gun laws across the nation.
Yet, there is a problem. When it comes to the violent loss of innocent human life, even one life is too many. Violence is the problem, though. Why is it so hard to get anti-gunners to agree with that basic premise? Maybe because so few of them really care about violence in general and are still stuck on the tool used in that violence.