Guns or Democracy? You decide.

18

It was not likely that Kayden Swann caused his own shooting. He was shot in the head last April 6, on Lake Shore Drive, which is now known in Chicago as Jean Baptiste Point DuSable Lake Shore Drive.

(We want to make Blacks feel better, so instead of doing something truly meaningful, like tripling the number of officers in the least educated and least affluent and most gun owning part of the community, we now name every slightly significant thing after Black historical figures, about whom we often have virtually no real information.)

So, why was Kayden Swann innocent, while Deandre Binion, the man who shot him from another moving vehicle, was guilty of firing something like a dozen or so shots into the car in which Swann was riding? Well, first of all, this was a road-rage incident against the driver of the car, not Swann, who was riding in the car with his grandmother, and Swann had not fired a shot. He couldn’t. He had no license to own a gun, did not even know how to fire a gun, and could not even hold a gun properly. Kayden Swann was only 22 months old when Deandre Bison fired those bullets, one of which went into the head of little Kayden Swann.

We could say, “Oh, they were Black. The little boy was Black and the shooters were both Black.” Black, Black, Black, Black, BLACK! When are we going to stop characterizing things by designating them Black or White? How do I know that we we do it? Are you kidding? I’m White. I’ve heard it all my life from people I despise and from people, many people I like, who, as I have done myself, make that comment. We are almost genetically created to make that kind of thoughtless comment.

We are a pathetic people. We enslave people, forbid them from education, punish them for educating themselves, do so for maybe ten to fifteen generations, hundreds of years, then restrict them from our schools, public areas drinking fountains and bathrooms for another several generations. Then, over perhaps 40 years, with feeble start-and-stop Affirmative Action steps, want a whole segment of society to become literary elites, cultural Brahmins, the “Cosby” Family (see how that turned out) and suddenly put down guns and embrace one another after a road rage incident when Whites go after one another in the same kind of situation with baseball bats, or guns.

In that same time frame, the Super-rich decide to create a two-tier society, rich and poor only. No Middle Class. We know that they have tried and are still trying to do it. We know, because some of our dumb-and-dumber politicians have been caught talking to billionaire donors on video, telling them that they will help the billionaires by “dividing and conquering” workers. Make the construction workers hate the teachers and the policemen hate the nurses. Most of all, make the Whites think that African-Americans already have too much. Even though the facts are simply that for every $100,000 a man with White skin has in his pocket or bank, a Black man has only $10,000. Those are the stats. We own ten times as much (or more) than Blacks.

Blacks are last-ones-in and first-ones-out, in the job market. Blacks have fewer skills and less eucation. So, we whites say…”Get an education!” Why not? It’s what we say to our own children. So, we have created a lot of places where Black students can move on to the next level. But we haven’t really done a good job at it. How do I know? Because we haven’t done a good job of it in Chicago, where the city population is at least two thirds Black, where we have a very competent and intelligent Black mayor, and where we have city colleges designed specifically for Blacks. Did I mention that they are also named for Blacks, like “Malcom X.” (Which name some will find incongruous, only to find it isn’t. It’s ironic.)

Sweet little Kayden Swann was not the only child a victim of gun violence this Spring and Summer. By early June of this year, of the almost unbelievable number of 1500 shot in Chicago neighborhoods or streets and highways, 52 were children, age 15 or younger. These were most often children merely caught in cossfire or downed by some random bullet from the gun of a criminal.

With all the nonsense on both sides about “Black Lives Matter,” a child’s life does matter. I don’t care about a looter or a gang member. I really don’t. Let the police shoot to kill. Save others, if people are so reckless as to shoot small children. And the same goes for the Trumpers when it comes to vaccination. Let them die. If they are so stupid as to deny medical evidence, as has the golfer John Rahm, who got a reprieve but may not be so lucky next time, then let them get the terrible virus and die. But find a way to isolate them from those who want to be vaccinated, or from the elderly or others in greater danger.

(Rahm was the golfer, by the way, who lost out on an almost guaranteed $1.8 million dollar jackpot by getting the virus, then not dying, then still not being vaccinated, he won the U.S. Open, then still not having been vaccinated–we don’t know how many people he infected–was finally booted from the U.S. Olympic team for still not being vaccinated.)

So, back to Blacks and education, let’s be honest. You don’t take the average kid out of the Black ghetto, where poverty is often double or triple what average U.S. “poverty” looks like and turn him or her into your average college professor. When that happens, we get up out of our seats and applaud. That’s how rare it is. So, don’t tell me that “all–they–need is a college education.” Many, many African-American scholars after advanced degrees still struggle with American colloquial speech. And we know that they must often attend remedial classes before entering freshman year at Ivy league colleges. Because, while individually they may be off the charts smart, their schools don’t provide them with an education that parallels those of kids in high-income zip codes, where most of the Ivy league kids come from.

Here’s where the problem gets worse, and where we are now with guns. In the African-American community, there are numerous obvious factors…lack of education, lack of job skills, a certain culture that has had to accept some crime as a matter of simple survival. (Yes. I’m “shocked” too, to find out that people may steal a loaf of bread rather than starve to death.) In that context, situations quickly escalate from having an illegal gun in the house, to putting it in a car to getting angry and shooting at someone simply to make them back off…and killing a child. Horrible. But it happens elsewhere besides the South side of Chicago.

There were about 20,000 deaths in the U.S. from firearms in 2020.  Of those, about 1,000 were police shootings. In the first six months of 2021 there were about 440 police shootings. Of those, 74 were Black. That may not seem like many out of 440, but it is higher than ten percent, almost double that percentage, which makes Black Americans at much higher risk from police shootings. Now, many police will tell you that, given Black attitudes, frequency of Black encounters with police, that this is actually a number that shows some restraint. And I think it is. But that does not mean that resisting arrest or mouthing off to a cop while Black should result in someone being shot. Blacks also need to speak up for good cops, both Black and White cops.

Let’s get real. While we need to continue to work on Black Lives Matter as it relates to police shootings of Blacks, the fact is that a Black man being shot and killed by another Black man in a nominally Black neighborhood, is likely to happen more than four times more often than a Black man being shot by a cop. So ouy of every 100 people shot, 37 or so are going to be Black, shot by a Black man in a Black neighborhood. It is a problem. It must be solved, as it is being worked on now. Cops are not shooting Black children but Black children are being gunned down as part of that neighborhood violence. And it is much worse than that. People are being wounded, maimed, paralyzed at a far, far higher rate as a result of these random, often scattered, shots flying around Black neighborhoods where children play. It is horrible. Children–Black children–must be made safe, given the opportunity to roam freely within their neighborhoods without fear. This is, believe it or not, a White problem, not a Black problem. Because even the leaders of Black neighborhoods do not have the resources. White Americans must take the initiative against guns.

There is no one problem. The problems have been described and analyzed ad infinitum. But one thing is very clear. You can’t knife someone in another car driving on a highway. You can’t kill an assmbly of people with a knife as rapidly as you can with an automatic weapon. And gang wars with fists and knives don’t kill innocent children down the block or on the adacent playground. We need to take guns out of society. We need to make it legal to go into a criminal’s home and, if we find a gun, take the gun and lock the person up for at least five years to think over the damage he or she might have done. We must remove guns from society to save society. We now have armed militia, trying to assassinate governors and invalidate and change election outcomes by force, using guns. This is not the Democracy that we grew up in.

Let’s hope it is not the kind of Democracy you wish to continue to live in. Because, if we are not careful, and if we do not restrict the ownership and use of guns, we may, very soon, end up with no Democracy at all.