Whose voice is heard over ‘shots fired’?


Come ride along with me while I detour from the regular education route of my monthly column. Go with me to Spain, to the streets of Barcelona on International Women’s Day, March 8, 2018. I was marching that day, stalled at an intersection with a statue in the middle. 100,000 people pressed in against me and each other. Fearfully, I gazed up to the low building roofs and thought, “I would never do this at home because of mass shooters.” 

We are still trying to comprehend the mass shooting at Michigan State University, and we are witnessing firsthand this problem that the United States is failing to solve, like the worst student in the world with a grade of 0.0. Let’s listen to various voices and consider whether any one point of view can resolve this grueling, torturous test of modern American existence. 

Because MSU is an institution of higher education, I listened when my friend, a professor of sociology, said, “I’m not sure if as a culture we even agree these shootings are a problem, or what the problem is.”

U.S. Constitution, Second Amendment, 1791:  Yes, Americans have the right to keep and bear arms. 

Humorists: Americans have the right to arm bears.

Regular Joe constitutionalists, guys holding rifles standing on the corner of Michigan and Washington avenues in downtown Lansing. I asked them, “Why are you doing this?” All they could say was, “It’s my right to bear arms. It’s my right.” 

A community service activist: If people would get more involved with their communities and government — that is, to lead by example — then more folk would know how to solve their problems and get their needs met.

Some Black people: “They” are out to get us. After 400 years of slavery and mistreating Black people, no one, not even Black people, understand that Black Lives Matter.

They say this because police reported the MSU shooter was a Black man, and one of three deaths was a Black, woman student. 

Feminists: Men! They don’t know how to channel their emotions, and until this last generation men couldn’t even cry. Their every emotion is a blast of violence. Start adulting.

Much of the talk spotlights mental health. 

As a whole, our nation ignores mental health. In 1992, then-Michigan Gov. John Engler closed most of the state-funded mental hospitals, including the Lafayette Clinic in Detroit. Affiliated with Wayne State University, itself the largest single-campus medical school in the nation, Lafayette was a major training institution. With its closure went the most of the state’s supply of psychiatrists and psychologists. Mental health care dried up. It is tremendously difficult for caring family to get through the resulting maze to get help for their stricken loved ones. I know. 

Now the mentally ill are back. With guns. 

Some other voices.

Gun apologists: Guns don’t kill people; people kill people. 

Gun owners: To have an intelligent conversation about guns, please learn something about guns. How they work. Please. 

Gun enthusiasts: We need more guns. If everyone had a gun, people could defend themselves. And targets like schools need to be hardened. More locks. Barricaded doors and windows. Make it harder to get into schools. Also, arm the teachers. 

Teachers: I am an educator, but you also want us to feed students and clothe them. I paid for my own college. Taught 30 years. Then, you tax my retirement. There’s a teacher shortage, so you invite me back to the classroom. Now you want me to train as a commando-marksman-sniper. Get the f***  outta here.

Revolutionist: This country was born in violence. It was maintained by violence. 

Canada’s CKLW commentators: From here in Windsor, Ontario, looking across the Detroit River into Michigan, we wonder, what is wrong with you people? Why do you need all those guns? Aren’t you tired of killing each other yet? 

Capitalists: I have a bulletproof vest, door or desk I can sell you. 

Universal Studios, owner of the film franchise “The Purge,” I have a film for YOU! In a seemingly normal, crime-free America of the near future, there’s an annual 12-hour event known as The Purge. During The Purge, all crime is decriminalized, especially murder.  No punishment. How does that strike you?

Film viewers: Love it! Here’s 450 million of my hard-earned dollars so I can see “The Purge” (2013), “The Purge: Anarchy” (2014), “The Purge: Election Year” (2016), “The First Purge” (2018) and “The Forever Purge” (2021). 

Rapper Ice Cube: “Today, I didn’t even have to use my AK. I got to say, it was a good day.”

Wouldn’t we all?

As long as random killings by self-appointed, deranged executioners are allowed to continue, an abundance of not-good days lie ahead. Mental health care was abandoned by government — and should be brought back by government. 

Government has regulated guns, but as President Biden said in his State of the Union address, it left that job half done. So, get on it, Congress. Raise your voice in the only way that matters: make law. That’s your job. 

We can’t hire enough police to keep tabs on every American, but call them, people, if police are your only option when you see someone in your sphere slipping.  Help them get help.  If your government representative is non-functioning and ineffective on this issue, vote different next time. 


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