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A Sister Shed Tears For Jordan Davis
3/5/2014 3:48:45 PM

By Barney Blakeney

Somebody recently asked, “What’s wrong with Florida?” The question came as a response to the verdict in the Michael Dunn murder trial in which a jury failed to convict Dunn on a murder charge in the shooting death of Jordan Davis. Perplexingly, Dunn was convicted of attempted murder for shooting at three people in the vehicle in which Davis was riding. Go figure.

Dunn’s Feb. 15 conviction conjures up a lot of thoughts about gun violence, racism and other things. A lot of people immediately drew reference to the shooting death of Trayvon Martin some 10 months earlier in Florida. Both boys were 17 years old and both were killed by white men who claimed they were afraid of the unarmed youths. In both incidents the perpetrators were not convicted of the murders many felt seemed so obvious.

A friend related to me that his 19-year-old daughter, a college sophomore, called him crying after hearing of the Dunn verdict. Tearfully his daughter lamented that she felt the verdicts indicated that the lives of young Black men are worth nothing.

My friend’s story struck a nerve with me. That this young woman was moved to tears over the killing of a young Black boy and that there apparently are no consequences as a result reveals a sensitivity in her that is all too absent in our society.

While many may focus on the race of the shooters and their victims in the Martin and Davis killings the reality is over 3,000 young Black males are killed every year in America by Black male perpetrators.

I was talking with Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon recently who said we’re living in a country where every dispute can become a deadly confrontation. We were talking about the proliferation of guns. Cannon’s reference came in regard to the January shooting in a Florida movie theater when a 71-year-old white man shot and killed a 43-year-old white man during an argument about texting.

One moviegoer commented about the fact that someone had brought a gun into a movie theater. Here in South Carolina, individuals who have a permit to carry a concealed weapon, over 230,000 people, now legally may carry their guns into bars and restaurants. If S.C. Sen. Lee Bright had his way, anyone with a gun openly could carry it wherever they pleased.

That’s illegally happening now to some extent anyway. And because it’s happening, an argument can get you dead.

I just read a newspaper report of a West Ashley man being shot in the shoulder during an argument and a couple of weeks ago a man shot his daughter’s boyfriend dead while arguing at a North Charleston motel.

It was an argument that led to the Jan. 24 shooting death of Brandon Robinson, 20, who was killed as he argued with 19-year-old Justin Singleton. Both students were members of the Bulldog football team. Singleton was arrested and charged with the murder.

Cannon says guns aren’t the problem. He says people with guns exercising bad judgement is the problem. Last year there were 32 homicides in the county. In 2013 the sheriff department only logged 64 incidents of gun possession. That’s in addition to 168 incidents logged by Charleston police and 254 incidents logged by North Charleston police.

In a recent letter to the daily newspaper a writer asked some questions about poverty that I think also apply to gun violence, especially as it relates to Black male homicides: Where are fathers and who is teaching the next generation of men to be more than sperm donors. As family units continue to disintegrate, poverty and crime will continue to rise, the writer said.

That reminds me of a good friend who referred to his daughter’s baby daddy as a sperm donor. Both my friend and his daughter are receptive of that condition.

I’m with Cannon and that letter writer. As our society grapples with the proliferation of guns, we must grasp the importance of developing among individuals rational thought processes which determine how those guns are used.

Cannon offered and one local S.C. House of Representatives member somewhat confirmed for me, most concealed weapons permit holders don’t carry their guns much of the time. Between the law and the lawless, any old fool can carry a gun. And many do.

Unfortunately we live in a society where its easier to get a gun than to get medicine. South Carolina has a weekend where people can buy guns tax free, but doesn’t have a similar time when people can buy groceries tax free.

Young sister, I feel your pain when you shed tears over the lack of value we place on people’s lives, especially those of young Black men. I hope that your generation will do more about that than mine has.

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