A disturbing mentality is afoot in Kansas City, one that is making its presence known with a violent regularity.
This mindset idolizes guns, yet has a severe disregard for human life. It attacks most often in poorer black neighborhoods, and we’re seeing the costs in chilling deaths, along with worsening racial tension, because the perpetrators are often young black men. None of this is new. And it’s not likely to be resolved through well-meaning anti-violence messaging or talks on snitching.
Let’s commit to getting the guns out of the hands of those most likely to commit violence. Do it early before they become repeat offenders and kill another innocent outside their dysfunctional social networks.
Say that and red flags pop about racial profiling, the value of all lives and basic legal rights. Yet an idea floated last year can fairly manage those and other valid concerns.
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Armed offender dockets, specialized courts reserved for serious gun crimes, were recommended after the 2013 Urban Crime Summit that filled four days of talks in Kansas City and St. Louis. Legislation for armed offender pilot programs in both cities was introduced, but it never received a hearing.
The hyperfocus of a judge solely addressing such cases would help expedite them, possibly keeping the suspects jailed on high, cash-only bonds. It’s time for this to be seriously considered.
All deaths have consequences for family, loved ones and the community. But society is understandably less enraged, even nonchalant, about deaths that appear baited by the victim’s behaviors.
A drug dealer shot dead by an associate is not placed in the same category as a 7-month-old boy shot dead in a drive-by. Nor is the dealer in the same category as a 10-year-old girl who is shot dead in a drive-by. Nor a man who goes outside to warm up his car for work or the one who defended his store and wound up shot dead in a botched robbery. Or when a young girl is shot dead when she accompanies her father to the local market. Or when a 14-year-old girl is shot dead after getting into a car with someone she met online.
Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker has been among the many voices insistent that the recent spate of local murders be a catalyst for renewed efforts.
Because you can bet that without some changes, the rash of gun violence in the first few months of 2015 won’t be the last time Kansas City is fearful.