They are tears of frustration and anger, not helplessness and sadness. I’ve stopped having those kinds of tears when it comes to gun violence.
This past week, there were too many horrific incidents fueled by a combination of who knows what. We can speculate that the holidays bring stress and drink and family and despair and shattered expectations. Or we can shrug and wring our hands at the state of the world (while hoping it doesn’t get any closer than our television sets). But the fact is, the USA is awash in firearms — both legally and illegally obtained. And they are devastating our cities even while they shock and awe our suburbs with relatively isolated incidents of negligence and violence.
But in the furor and dizzying haze of American gun violence, there is sometimes a story that pulls me harshly and sadistically back to those Monday morning classroom head counts — after hearing that an as yet unnamed teenager in some Brooklyn neighborhood had been shot. And this December 25th brought one of those stories.
It’s simple: teenagers should be able to take out the trash without being shot and killed. Teenagers should be able to hang out on stoops without ducking bullets. Teenagers should be able to live freely without tensing up when they hear heavy footsteps on their block. Teenagers, no matter where they live, can be annoying and eye-rolling and frustrating and goofy — just like we all were — and they should all be able to mature in peace.
Earlier this month, there was a horrific NJ incident involving a carjacking at a high-end suburban mall and a couple doing what they ought to be able to do peacefully — buy gifts for their loved ones. There were reverberations of shock and “too close to home” and an almost immediate
$40k $50k reward gathered for information leading to arresting those responsible. Four men were arrested five days after the murder, at least one man was arrested in another state.
These teenagers lives — cut down far too soon — count as much as the 30-year-old man whose life was violently stolen from him. Finding the perpetrators and bringing them to justice won’t bring back these young people — but it may serve as a message that ALL victims of gun violence matter. ALL neighborhoods deserve a safe environment and consistent, effective support. And ALL families deserve justice.
I hope that the murderers of these two young teens (the same murderers who attempted to kill another 14-year old) are found and arrested as quickly as the carjackers at the Short Hills Mall. And I hope that we, as a society, can show even more vehemently that we care about all our children with the same force of love and concern as we do our own.
UPDATE: The Newark Police Department is offering a $10k reward for information leading to the arrest of the perpetrators in these murders.