Baton Rouge's local paper, the Advocate, reports fatal shootings daily. But today is especially bad. How bad? Screen shot of today's news below the orange squiggly.
The tragic death of
this toddler little Travin Varise (even though he was only here for two years, I realized that we should know his name) is the second fatal accidental shooting in Baton Rouge in three days. The victim in the other one was 18 years old.
Those were accidents. Now check out the left column for the criminal gun violence: a 19-year-old found shot to death in his Baton Rouge driveway, and a hostage situation/fatal shooting just across the Mississippi River in West Baton Rouge Parish (and a fatal shooting in Lafayette which is a couple hours from here). And then at the very bottom, it tells you how nothing is likely to be done legislatively, thanks to the fact that LA citizens last month (10 days before Newtown) overwhelmingly passed a constitutional amendment that raises the legal standard that must be met for any gun restrictions to be deemed constitutional, a measure to which Gov. Bobby Jindal gave his full-throated support. The legislators give some lip service to “mental health,” which seems meaningless in light of the drastic cuts to mental health services we’ve seen here.
I live in one of Baton Rouge’s affluent neighborhoods and occasionally hear gunfire at night. But gun legislation is anathema here. The more violent it gets the more people want guns, especially after Newtown. They seem to believe that if only enough law-abiding citizens were sufficiently armed, the “bad guys” would…unilaterally disarm? Just go away? Kill each other off?
How is this self-reinforcing cycle of violence ever to be broken in a society where gun worship begins at an early age; where even a horrifying front page like today’s is just another typical day in Baton Rouge, and just a reason to get another gun?
And as I was getting ready to post this, I looked at the Advocate's home page again, just in time to see the yellow "Breaking News" banner about a shooting at a Houston college campus. It might as well have read, "Just in case the dead toddler didn't get your attention."
UPDATE: But once the shooting has been done, we certainly throw the book at them. A seventeen-year-old who shot and injured two other kids at the mall about a year ago, will go to prison for 20 years after accepting a plea deal. I wonder if he wishes it would have been harder for him to get that gun; harder for him to do something stupid for which he will now waste his first two decades of adult life.