I n mid-April, 16-year-old music prodigy Ralph Yarl was running an errand that most older siblings perform, i.e. picking up his younger brothers at a friend’s house. He went to a home on …
In mid-April, 16-year-old music prodigy Ralph Yarl was running an errand that most older siblings perform, i.e. picking up his younger brothers at a friend’s house. He went to a home on Northeast 115th St., rather than the correct house 100 yards away on Northeast 115th Terrace. The black teen was shot twice by the white resident.
Another teenager, Heather Roth, inadvertently got into the wrong car. When she realized her mistake, she immediately got into her friend’s car. Instead of the incident ending there, she and her friend were chased and shot.
On that same day, yours truly was leaving Shaw’s market and made the same mistake. I noticed that the car which looked a lot like mine was too neat so I got out of it without incident. Yet, another young person, meanwhile, Kaylen Gillis, got peppered with gunshot for pulling into the wrong driveway.
With gun violence being the leading cause of death for teens and with a startling new research report (Pew) that 1 in 25 present kindergarteners won’t make it to their 40th birthday, I awaited some movement by politicians to address in Rhode Island and elsewhere this gun epidemic.
Instead, the news was fixated on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis mouthing off about Mickey Mouse while his cheerleader moms urged him to continue to ban books in schools and libraries that offend their sensibilities. Even worse was the old bromide about guns don’t kill people, people do. Well, those shooters weren’t popping bubble gum, were they?
For years, the NRA has pontificated about how automobiles kill more people than guns, and we don’t ban them. Conveniently omitted from this pontification is the fact that automobiles are regulated.
We limit access to them so as to reduce the death toll they cause. There are age requirements for a license, seatbelt regs and car seats, federal safety standards for cars, airbags and mandatory reporting of defects and recalls.
One simple requirement would reduce a lot of gun injuries and/or deaths would be a biometric fingerprint lock. Only the owner could fire the gun. Children couldn’t accidentally shoot other kids and robbers wouldn’t have any incentive to steal a gun that wouldn’t work. If somebody steals an iPhone which can be rendered useless, isn’t it well past time to have mandatory fingerprint locks?
The NRA has also touted that everybody should have a gun to stop violence, including teachers in the classroom. This is utter nonsense. Most people under pressure who are not constantly trained in discharging a gun, target practice, etc. are notoriously inaccurate in repelling a deadly force.
Most importantly, this country has to focus on who gets access to a gun. Just like a car, a gun is usually safe in the hands of a 45-year-old woman with no criminal record and more dangerous in the hands of a felon with alcohol offenses or domestic violence. Reform must encompass who has access. It should not be more rigorous to adopt a dog than to get a firearm.
Mass attacks are beginning to anesthetize people rather than summoning them to action. Do we really want to yawn when mass attacks occur at schools, concerts, food markets, concerts, or demand reform? Hopefully, it is the latter.
Arlene Violet is an attorney and former Rhode Island Attorney General.