Drugs, gun violence go hand in hand

Saturday, June 8, 2019

A simple stop to help a stranded driver turned into a scene from an action movie Sunday night, when a man opened fire on a state trooper just outside of Sikeston. It is just the latest in a long line of gun violence not only here but across the country.

It was the 20th shooting in Sikeston in the last 16 months that has left 13 injured and at least 18 arrested and those numbers donít include suicides with guns.

But donít think this is just a Sikeston problem. Locally, both Cape and Charleston have had their fair share of shootings in that same time frame and across the nation, 2017 produced the most gun deaths (39,773) in 40 years, according to the most recent Centers for Disease and Prevention study.

Of course there are plenty of people who start screaming for stricter gun control anytime there is a shooting and while there may be a little merit to some of the shouting, that wonít be what solves the problem. Just about everyone I know owns a gun and I have never worried they are going to go out shoot someone. I own a gun and Iíve never thought of picking it up and firing it at someone who made me mad.

You have to look deeper at the problem. Sundayís shooting involved a convicted felon who is banned by law from having a gun. Yet he had one anyway. I canít even count the number of times in my 21 years as a reporter that I have typed up a story on convicted felons being sent back to jail because they had a gun.

I firmly believe that if somebody wants a gun, they are going to get a gun, regardless of how strict the laws are. In 1994, Congress passed legislation outlawing certain types of semiautomatic weapons and while gun homicide rates dropped slightly, it made very little impact. That was shown in 2004 when the legislation expired and gun homicide rates dropped again.

I think the problem runs deeper. First, itís a societal issue. I personally donít understand the logic of a person who picks up a gun and tries to take the life of another person just because they are angry at them. My mind doesnít work that way but for some that is how they were brought up. Family and friends theyíve seen along the way see that as a way to solve problems.

And letís not ignore the drug component either. The last time the gun homicide rates were this high was in the 1980s when drugs were rampant across the country. And we would be remiss to think that a majority of the shootings around Sikeston didnít have a drug component involved. In Sundayís shooting, the suspect said he had used methamphetamine earlier in the day to prove my point.

So people can scream gun control all they want but until we change peopleís thinking in society and we continue to work to eliminate drugs from our neighborhoods, the gun violence will continue.

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