In History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on August 5, 2015 at 12:53 am

The total divide–between spiraling rates of firearms-violence and Republicans’ unwillingness to address its chief cause–was recently highlighted on the PBS Newshour.

The segment, shown on August 4, featured two entirely different stories that nevertheless fed into each other.

The top story focused on “What Caused the Dramatic Tipping Point in Deadly Shootings?”

And the second was an interview with the only black Republican 2016 Presidential candidate: “Ben Carson Talks ‘All Lives Matter,’ Immigration Reform.”

From “Deadly Shootings”:

JUDY WOODRUFF: We turn now to two police chiefs dealing with this every day, Chief Edward Flynn from Milwaukee and Chief Samuel Dotson, the police chief of Saint Louis….

Chief Flynn, to you first. Milwaukee, an 88% — in homicides just since last year. What is going on?

EDWARD FLYNN, Chief, Mailwaukee Police Department: Well, we’re seeing a number of different dynamics playing out.

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Edward Flynn

Certainly, one of the things we have seen is a dramatic increase in the use of firearms, particularly semiautomatic pistols, in our violent deaths. We have seen that our shootings are up significantly, our homicides are up dramatically.

Click here: What caused the dramatic tipping point in deadly shootings?

Over 85% of our homicides are committed with firearms, and, of those, over 85% are committed with semiautomatic pistols.

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We have recently passed a ludicrously weak gun law that allowed basically concealed carry permits to be granted to people who meet the statutory definition of career criminals.

We have also got a situation where no matter how many times you are arrested for carrying a gun illegally, it remains a misdemeanor, even though a second offense for carrying marijuana can be prosecuted as a felony.

So very weak and relatively recent gun laws are certainly a major contributor to our dramatic spike in firearms-related violence.

From “Ben Carson”:

GWEN IFILL: Another question for you as a physician: There has been much discussion recently around the country about the Black Lives Matter movement. And you have made clear that you believe that all lives matter.

Click here: Ben Carson talks ‘all lives matter,’ immigration reform

So, as a physician who has dealt with gun violence, who has obviously worked in emergency rooms, who has dealt with the fallout from that, what should we be doing about gun violence in this country, and does it disproportionately affect one population over another?

DR. BENJAMIN CARSON: Well, certainly, you see a lot more gun violence in inner cities.

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Dr. Benjamin Carson

I have spent many, many a night, you know, working on the heads of people who have been shot in the head, you know, black people primarily, but white people as well. And it’s devastating. And of course those lives matter.

And I believe what we’re going to have to do is really concentrate on, where is all this violence coming from? And it’s not all coming from one specific area. But it’s coming from a general lack of respect for life, and, you know, this person pissed me off, and I got a gun, I’m going to kill them.

I mean, when did we get like that and the values that used to be put into people? And I think a lot of it stems from the fact that we don’t really like to talk about values anymore, because whose values are they, we ask?

You know, it’s all relative. There is no right there. There is no wrong. You know, it’s all relative.

That’s the same thing that the Romans did.

From “Deadly Shootings”:

JUDY WOODRUFF: Chief Dotson, what about in Saint Louis, a 64% increase over last year? Is it all about guns?

COL. SAM DOTSON, Chief, St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department: I’m seeing exactly the same thing that they’re seeing in Milwaukee, the availability of guns.

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Sam Dotson

We have a constitutional amendment in our state that was passed within the last year that makes it an inalienable right to have a gun. We have had courts that have declined to prosecute convicted felons that we arrest with guns.

I’m seeing exactly the same thing, high-capacity magazines, a willingness to use the guns, and a judiciary that sometimes doesn’t follow through on the prosecution.

We had research done from a university here. Of about 250 cases of unlawful use of a weapon, over 61% of those cases got probation. That means those people are right back out on the street committing crimes.

From “Ben Carson”:

GWEN IFILL: But that’s not the same thing as a solution to the problem.


The solution to the problem is, we have to start teaching values again, teaching people to respect one another again, and to understand that human life is valuable. Even if somebody disagrees with you, their life is still valuable.

* * * * *

Police Chiefs Edward Flynn and Samuel Dotson bluntly stated the devastating results of unrestricted access to high-powered firearms.

And they offered a concrete solution: Drastically restrict that access.

The “solution” offered by Dr. Ben Carson, on the other hand, came down to: “Start teaching values again.”

A “solution” that will appease the religious Right–and not arouse the fury of the National Rifle Association.

Nor will it prevent a single murder.

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