published Friday, January 24th, 2014

A child is gone: Lets replace guns with caring

Google "guns Chattanooga area" and you get 540 results on a map scaled with Chattanooga in the center and surrounded by South Pittsburg, Dunlap, Cleveland and LaFayette.

Pull the map scale slider down just enough to show Murfreesboro, Sweetwater, Rome and Guntersville, and your hits will jump to more than 4,000.

Those "hits" are places where guns are sold. And no, that doesn't include places where a person can buy a gun illegally. These are legal outlets. Up front. Advertised.

This has been quite the week -- year, really -- for gun news in the Chattanooga. On Monday night a half hour before midnight, a 13-year-old was shot and killed at the doorway of his East 50th Street home when at least a dozen bullets riddled the house and a residence next door.

Police said East Lake Academy of Fine Arts eighth-grader Deontrey Southers wasn't the intended target, but he was the latest victim in an ongoing retaliation spree between rival gangs. This month, four other people have been shot in Chattanooga. All told police they didn't know who fired at them.

Meanwhile, Tennessee Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mount Juliet, wants to make enforcement of federal gun control measures in Tennessee illegal. The bill states federal laws regarding gun control would not be followed in the state. Think: No restrictions. Want a gun? Plop your money down.

One of Beavers' ultra-conservative cohorts, State Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, has introduced another bill that would ban local options to prohibit guns in parks. Think Coolidge Park or Chester Frost Park as scenes at the OK Corral.

Gun violence doesn't just happen in Chattanooga, and it doesn't just happen in poor neighborhoods. Last week, Hamilton County sheriff's deputies charged an 18-year-old with reckless endangerment and carrying a weapon on school property after he fired shots near Hamilton County High School, formerly Harrison Bay Vocational School. No one was injured.

The weekend before, Collegedale police were called to help a woman who was shot in her mobile home near Apison Pike when a bullet passed through the wall and hit her leg. Her wound was not life-threatening. In early January, a 25-year-old man was shot in the abdomen in a house on Waconda Drive in Harrison.

But there is a difference in some parts of Chattanooga. On the night an innocent eighth-grader died, a neighbor in fear because the sound of gunshots is all-too-familiar there told reporters: "I guarantee you tonight there will be more -- two to three more killings or somebody will get shot in the process."

That didn't come to pass. Perhaps that is because of a fairly new local focus on stemming violence that includes tougher enforcement in Chattanooga, a focus using federal gun laws for longer prison sentencing, along with social and jobs assistance programs for people who turn away from gangs and violence.

Perhaps that focus -- which includes a concerted effort to replace guns with mentorships, heart and caring dialogues promoted in recent weeks by the city, local groups and this newspaper -- might be making a difference. The effort hadn't been in place long enough to save Deontrey Southers, but at least there were no more shootings in the early morning hours of Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday.

If Sen. Beavers, who touts her National Rifle Association endorsements, had her way, the tougher enforcement efforts wouldn't be possible. Tennessee would in effect be "opted out" of federal gun laws. Maybe she would like to spend a night or two on East 50th Street, where the sound of gunfire is all too familiar.

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nucanuck said...

Chattanooga and the US are in a bull market for guns and gun violence. Violence is no where near peaking nor does the populace want gun curtailment. US society is devolving and fear has overcome rational solutions to run-away violence. Only after far worse carnage spreads into ALL neighborhoods, including the rich, will there come a universal cry of ENOUGH!

Until then, batten down the hatches or get out of Dodge.

January 24, 2014 at 12:43 a.m.
LaughingBoy said...

How many of these guns fired themselves? Typical, blame everyone but those responsible.

January 24, 2014 at 11:35 a.m.
nucanuck said...

LB,

Blame whomever you want, but the violence has become a part of the culture. Few places on earth exhibit a similar level of violence. The rationale for more and more guns seems to reflect a loss of hope for a better American society.

January 24, 2014 at 12:02 p.m.
LaughingBoy said...

I blame the shooters, and to a lesser extent, those who would excuse them from blame. It doesn't matter if I hand someone a gun myself and say go shoot someone, they have the option of ignoring that request.

January 24, 2014 at 12:05 p.m.
nucanuck said...

Do you ave a shooter extermination plan in mind?

Guns facilitate violence because they make it easier to strike out in anger in a deadly way. Without guns, fights and anger will still happen, but with lesser injuries.

As you may know, I live in a city the size of Chattanooga that had ZERO gun incidents last year. That can only happen because the whole population supports a gun-free environment. We are not crime free, but the level of civility is amazing. That is the product of community effort to build values instead of armed citizens and gated communities.

I know the US is not going to change it's gun habits. I also know how pleasant it is to live in a gun-free environment.

January 24, 2014 at 1:26 p.m.
VisaDiva said...

No matter what, people don't seem to get the thought that 'you can't legislate morality.' Just because drugs are illegal doesn't mean they aren't used. Existing gun laws are ignored. They do not stop shootings and never will. I second the thought about Sen. Beavers. Better still, let's make it a requirement for all lawmakers.

January 24, 2014 at 3:55 p.m.
conservative said...

You will not find any words teaching morals, right and wrong, the Bible, prayer, love or even respect for others in this article.

This Liberal like all other Liberals refuses to see why killing goes on and the violence continues.

They just continue to rail against the inanimate object sinful man uses to kill and maim.

January 24, 2014 at 7:15 p.m.
GameOn said...

High crime communities are represented by Democrats. Their failed policies for 50 plus years have destroyed these communities. Looks like the problem is Democrats representing these communities. Democrats want to blame guns instead of addressing the real problem.

January 25, 2014 at 6:48 p.m.
Ki said...

This is not a party affiliation issue. It's a human tragedy that represents failings in what's suppose to be a civilzed and powerful society. This has nothing to do with 50 plus years of any policies.

January 25, 2014 at 7:34 p.m.
fairmon said...

What is the concern about requiring registration of guns combined with severe penalties for possession without a carry permit and registration? Those thinking visiting a park without their gun where normally many kids and young people need to take parks off the list of places they go.

The right for a "highly regulated militia" to bear arms has gone to an extreme without the highly regulated being included.

January 26, 2014 at 6:48 a.m.
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