Saturday, October 20, 2018

GateHouse: Gun violence: A tale of four cities

Matthew T. Mangino
GateHouse Media
October 20, 2018
Last weekend — Friday, Saturday and Sunday — not a single person was reported shot in all of New York City. The Big Apple is home to 8.6 million people and not a single reported shooting in the entire city.
Compare that to the last full weekend of August in Memphis, Tennessee, a population of about 650,000. Seven people were shot and killed. All seven of the victims were men. Six of the dead were between the ages 23 and 49.
The carnage is Memphis pales in comparison to Chicago’s deadly first weekend of August. At least 72 people were shot, including 12 fatally. Chicago, with a population of 2.7 million — about a third of New York City — hasn’t seen things improve. During the third weekend of August, 61 people were shot with eight dead.
Do you think guns in Chicago are a problem? Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson told the USA Today that officers shut down 68 illegal block parties during the most recent deadly weekend seizing 83 guns, and arresting 29 people on gun charges.
Deadly weekends are not exclusive to Chicago and Memphis. At least seven people were shot and killed during the last weekend in September in Baltimore. Police told CBS WJZ two people were gunned downed Saturday evening, with three more fatal shootings overnight Saturday, and another one Sunday morning and the seventh Sunday evening. Baltimore has a population of about 618,000 people.
How has America’s largest city found the answer to gun violence?
“NYPD has the best strategy, the best training ... because this department never rests on its laurels,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio told the New York Post. “This department always seeks to get better.”
The story is bleak in Chicago. “There is a shortage of values about what is right, what is wrong,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel told CBS News. “We as a city, in every corner, have an accountability and responsibility. If you know who did this, be a neighbor. Speak up.”
Bill Gibbons of the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission told, “I think what we’re facing is a situation where, unfortunately, people are trying to resolve conflict through violence, and we need to address that.”
If New York City has found the solution to gun violence why isn’t it being replicated?
“We know far less about gun violence as a cause of injury and death than we do about almost every medical problem,” Dr. Elinore Kaufman, chief resident in surgery at Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center told Time.
In 1996, Congressman Jay Dickey, a self-proclaimed “point-man” for the National Rifle Association, proposed a legislative amendment that removed millions of dollars from the Center for Disease Control’s budget earmarked for firearms-related research.
Twenty-one years later, things haven’t changed. According to a 2017 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, gun violence research received what amounts to 5.3 percent of the federal funds dedicated to studying motor-vehicle accidents — even though guns and cars kill at about the same rate.
According to the Washington Post, there are no national studies of who owns guns, how gun owners acquired their weapons, the theft of guns, the number of households with guns, the attributes of high-quality gun training or the risk factors associated with gun violence.
As Congress hides from the NRA, states have been left to pick up the slack, and most states have been reluctant. The NRA is equally influential in state capitals across the country.
However, California has stepped up. The state recently opened the nation’s first state-funded firearms-violence research center, on the Sacramento campus of the University of California-Davis.
Garen Wintemute, the director of the center, told the Post, “California essentially said that the federal government wasn’t fulfilling its responsibility, so we’re going to step into the breach.”
Matthew T. Mangino is of counsel with Luxenberg, Garbett, Kelly & George P.C. His book The Executioner’s Toll, 2010 was released by McFarland Publishing. You can reach him at and follow him on Twitter @MatthewTMangino.
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