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Argument Against Gun Violence Comes A Little Late
9/2/2015 4:05:52 PM

By Barney Blakeney

Years ago thinking about a career in journalism, I was inspired by the late ABC news anchor, Peter Jennings, who started the first American news bureau in the Middle East. I watched Jennings’ broadcasts thinking how cool his job as a foreign correspondent must have been. I also thought about how dangerous it must have been. He worked in an environment in which bullets and bombs were the backdrop.

I soon realized a reporter’s work isn’t always done from the comfort of some office. I met a guy the other day who said I’ve never done a day’s hard work in my life. Shows how well he knows me. I haven’t always been a reporter.

Working this job hasn’t been a cake walk either. Some of us have earned the title, ‘journalist’ because we’ve been on the front lines in the trenches. Sometimes writing the story is a heck of a lot easier than getting the story.

Anyway, it didn’t take me long to lose my infatuation with the glamor of news reporting. Like mail deliverers, a reporter has to get the job done - hot/cold, wet/dry, five minutes/five hours - do whatever it takes to get the story. You’d think an interview at a shopping mall would be a pie assignment. It became deadly for Alison Parker and Adam Ward, the two Roanoke, Va. newsmen killed by a crazed gunman last week.

Getting caught up in a violent situation often is in the back of a reporter’s mind, especially those who work in the lion’s den or tell stories about stuff some folks don’t want to hear. You never know who you’ll tick off or how they may come at you. But like many other professions, you can’t do the job if you’re scared. A little fear is good, it keeps you on point. But if you’re afraid of what may come back at you, write a cook book.

Still who’d expect that a young girl and photographer would be gunned down on what most would consider a routine assignment? It wasn’t supposed to happen, but it did.

I kind of took the horrific crime in stride however. Heck, it’s only been two months since I covered the Emanuel AME Church massacre and that wasn’t my first rodeo. I’ve been working with gruesome stuff since my high school days as an orderly at Charleston County Hospital. It wasn’t the madness and tragedy of the Parker/Ward murders that stuck out to me in the story, it was her parents’ response. Parkers’ parents have vowed to become ardent advocates against gun violence since their daughter’s murder.
I really hate having to say this, but the Parkers should have been more vocal against gun violence before their daughter’s murder. Maybe she’d still be alive.

I can’t imagine those folks’ pain and I understand where they’re coming from, but speaking out against gun violence after their daughter is killed comes a little after the fact, don’t you think? That bugs me almost as much as the parade of relatives who always go on television after the homicide of some Black male talking about how great the guy was.

According to a recent study one in three Americans own a gun. Last year the U.S. ranked first in the number of guns per 100 residents, more than in the war torn countries of Serbia and Iraq. In the U.S. almost anybody can get a gun. I used to think having a gun was good self defense. But nowadays, everybody has one. Being in possession of a gun no longer insures that a person can protect himself. Just a couple of weeks ago three North Charleston guys in an argument pulled guns and left two people dead. How much security did their guns offer them?

I saw something that said in 2012 259 people used a gun to kill in self defense compared to the approximately 3,000 criminal homicides involving guns. And guess what? Gun ownership is declining. According to another study - in 2004 38 percent of U.S. households reported having at least one gun compared to 32 percent of U.S. Households with a gun now.

Here in South Carolina our government is offering economic incentives to get gun manufacturers to locate in the state. One just moved to Myrtle Beach in January after being lured here by Gov. Nikki Haley. Homegirl won’t expand Medicaid, but she’s down with the bang bang.

And what do we do? We whoop and holler about nine people killed in a church. We don’t vehemently protest a public education system that sends more Black boys to prison than college. We don’t demand that our social institutions socialize our kids. We don’t demand that our politicians address a police state in which the criminal environments we call communities produce the raw material for the world’s most profitable prison industrial complex.

As tragic as are the deaths of Alison Parker, Adam Ward, and yes Vester Flanagan as well, making a commitment to fighting gun violence now seems a bit like closing the barn door after the horse has left the stable. And, ya’ll, that horse is running wild.

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