Seventeen-year-old Jordan Russell Davis (photo above, center) was in the back seat of an SUV parked at a convenience store in Jacksonville, Florida the other night, when a Volkswagon Jetta pulled up beside the SUV. The Jetta was driven by 45-year-old Michael Dunn (photo above, right), who was accompanied by his girlfriend.
According to a local newspaper, Dunn, who is from Satellite Beach, was in Jacksonville to attend his son’s wedding.
Dunn complained about the loud music Davis and his pals were playing, and – as the cops say – an altercation ensued.
By now, you might have guessed that Davis and the other teenagers were black and Dunn was white.
But I am sure you would never have guessed what happened next.
According to the police report, Dunn pulled out a pistol and fired eight or nine shots into the SUV, killing Davis. Dunn claimed he thought the teens had a gun (although no gun was found in the SUV).
I can’t think of any other civilized country in which something like this could happen. The closest I can come is a story about the Wild West of a century ago. In that legendary tale, an outlaw named John Wesley Hardin (photo above, left) shot a man to death because he couldn’t stand the man’s snoring.
But this is what America has come to in the 21st Century. This is what Florida has come to. In our state, we can legally kill anyone who makes us feel threatened. It’s called “standing our ground.” Dunn is expected to use this law in his defense.
Shootings have become commonplace in America. And with every incident, there is a brief surge of public outrage.
The current outrage is over an NFL player who shot his girlfriend to death and then killed himself. Moved by this incident, sportscaster Bob Costas complained about the availability of firearms – and landed in hot water. The Fox News crazies want NBC to fire Costas for daring to mention gun control, for example. And the right-wing noise machine is in full blast condemning Costas.
Americans seem to love two things above all else – cars and guns. And the love affair with guns is intensifying, A recent Gallup survey shows 47 percent of American adults own guns. That’s the highest level of gun ownership in two decades.
The gun is a seductive thing. It offers such a quick and simple solution to problems. Like children crying, “Bang! Bang! You’re dead,” we can blow away our frustration with a twitch of the trigger finger.
Obviously, the country – and the world – would be a lot safer if guns were not so easy to come by.
Obviously, any responsible government would control the ownership and use of guns.
But that’s easier said than done. Driven by a multimillion-dollar National Rifle Association crusade, popular sentiment seems to be against any attempt to limit who, where, when or how Americans may own and use firearms. The U.S. Supreme Court recently reinforced the Scond Amendment right to “bear arms.”
And here’s the economic factor to consider. The manufacture of firearms is also among the country’s top industries. America exported $336.5 million worth of firearms in 2011.
Still, the current situation cannot be allowed to continue.
Someone in authority is going to find the courage to control gun ownership in America.
How about you, President Obama? You don’t have to worry about being re-elected.