Author: Richard Carter

Every time I consider writing something of this kind I am very aware of the raw nerves that the subject of violence, primarily firearms, in America produces.

To those people whose lives have been irrevocably changed by violence, I can say I do understand much of what you’re experiencing in the aftermath.  I have been a victim of crime, as well, on more than one occasion; also I know the frustration of watching the progress of due process that comes to naught.

Ever since the Lindbergh case which led to the “Lindbergh Law”, which made transporting a kidnapping victim across the state lines a federal crime, there has been a maturing of the systems response to crime against children and their families.   As dire a subject as that is, and one ever worthy of our highest attention, I don’t believe striking out in anger to replace the irreplaceable is the solution that fits this problem.

When I was 21 I had met a girl who was a dancer downtown. As a result of this relationship I came under the scrutiny of a few young men who resented it.   I was held down and beat and cut on. The intention was to terrify me, which it most assuredly did. It also produced the desired effect of me limiting my trips downtown to a minimum and keeping them in well-populated areas.

I was cut repeatedly and to this day I have no idea if they meant to kill me. A homeless woman with a shopping cart may have saved my life, her repeated screams made them leave the area, and I was able to get up and get away.

This is only mentioned as an example of one of millions that occur daily across our country and the world.  The enemy in all this isn’t the tool on hand, the broken bottle, the club, the knife, or the fist.  It’s the mind that has run out of alternatives, the mind that has turned away from the near endless list of possibilities that could replace that violent act, the mind that wants and needs to subjugate someone, in return for the real or imagined slights they have received in their own life.

Whether that is the result of a dysfunctional family, or a social, geographical or racial bias they or their families have been a victim of, there are always other choices.    We flock to theatres to see the recent film of a good man choosing revenge as the answer, and at least two of the recent movies of this kind sell the film, in their trailers, with the word revenge used in its description.   We rush to see them, but we understand just as well that society has little tolerance for revenge.  There are so many logics used to explain a crime.  Each ignores the reality that there are always alternatives. I could just as easily have been beaten with a near inexhaustible list of objects, instead of being cut,

The mass killings in schools could just as easily have been accomplished with multiple tools of mass destruction.  We give guns too much credit.  If someone could snap their finger and tomorrow morning we’d wake to a world free of guns, by the nightfall of that day the news channels would be just as full of altercations, of new violent uses found for ordinary things.   THE ABSENCE OF GUNS didn’t keep the Cro-Magnons from nearly exterminating the Neanderthals.  It didn’t keep near countless societies of people, at home tilling their gardens and concentrating on the upward evolution of their people from defending themselves.

One tool of war has competed with another and man has never tired of the search for newer, more effective means of both self-defense and war.     The sword bans imposed by the Japanese on those they conquered only lead to the development of the Kama, (the sickle) the Nunchuku (the rice flail), the Tonfa (another tool for pounding and grinding, I believe). These are only a few examples of everyday tools used as well for self-defense.   Many other peoples went through similar points in their history; few men can sleep easy with no adequate form of protection at hand.

Mankind’s problem lies in faults that are of a mental and spiritual nature.  Just as some forms of life are beautiful and beneficial to the rest of the cycle of life, there is always poison ivy; similarly mankind will always have its bad apples.  Unfortunately there will always be a need to be watchful, and aware that not everyone rising as we do to face the day, has the best intentions for its use.

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