I have mad respect for the Miami Police Department, and any other law enforcement agency making an effort to do its job. And I would never speak disrespectfully of an honest, legitimate, member of the clergy.
But frankly, I'm not that interested in what either has to say about the latest violent crime tragedy to hit Miami. Last week, nine people hanging out, playing dice in an uptown neighborhood were gunned down by a masked man - or woman; who knows, since a mask was worn? - toting an AK-47.
Two teenagers died from their injuries. The gunman is still at large.
I understand the political and practical reasons for why the police want assault weapons bans. And I understand why the clergy led marches, and public prayers, and called on the government to help fix things with jobs, and better housing, and programs for idle youth.
And there's nothing wrong with any of that stuff. Far be it from me to tell the clergy to stop with the activism. Without activist clergy there may have never been a Civil Rights Movement in the U.S. back in the day. And far be it from me to tell the police they're wrong about assault weapons. I love my guns. But then again, I have enough good sense that I wouldn't use 'em for any reason but self defense or target practice.
Never say never, right? I could be so broke and desperate one day that I feel armed robbery is my only way out, right? That'd be good logic, except this shooting wasn't about robbery. Neither are most like it.
For the umpteenth time, the solution to this kind of senseless violence is old-school home training.
The clergy here is demanding that gunmen stop it, programs be created, and and neighbors come forward.
What about demanding that parents and legal guardians of these kids - and yes, many of these gunmen turn out to be kids or barely older - start manhandling them and putting them on a regimine and getting in their face when they break a small rule, so they don't break a big one later?
Yeah, "the system" is bad, and people are poor and increasingly desperate, and kids are rasing kids, etc. Nevertheless, money and a better "system" won't stop this stuff. The idea that nicer housing and more money for all will end violent criminal behavior is nuts.
I recall, when I was a crime writer back in the day, visiting the home of a 15-year-old murder victim - a girl who'd been shot and dumped out of a car at like 3 a.m. - and sitting down with her mom.
My heart ached for the family. But mom, in spite of her grief, wanted to know when the system would change. She had lots of opinions on the horrible world around us.
And I didn't disagree with her. But when I asked her if she knew why her 15-year-old was out of the house at 3 a.m. on a week night (or any night, for that matter), she replied to the effect that she didn't know and assumed maybe the girl was with friends. Assumed?
Old-school home training dictates that girl should have been at home, in bed, sleeping in preparation for school the next day. That sort of governance is free and can be imposed a hell of a lot faster than change to "the system."
I covered another homicide, in which an 11-year-old girl visiting her grandmother and minding her own business, was struck in the head by a stray bullet and killed. Where'd the bullet come from? A young man and his buddies on the street outside her home. He and his pals were running down the street chasing another young man, guns blazing. Thirty-three shots were fired in that barrage. And those crooked-shooting fools didn't even hit the guy they were aiming at, if I remember right. Instead they killed the girl, a couple of parked cars, and some vinyl siding.
But here's the best part. Once captured, the gunmen, who are all in prison today, told police that they were chasing the other guy and shooting at him, because they "thought" he "might" have been involved in the shooting of one of their friends at a party the night before. It gets better, actually. At least one of these fools offered police a different motivation: that their intended victim had stepped on one of their girlfriend's expensive shoes at the party, the night before, and scuffed the shoe. They didn't like his attitude and didn't think his apology was sincere enough. So their solution to this injustice was to shoot and presumably kill him.
That, my friends, was not an action that was caused 'cause these young men didn't have jobs or a nice home. That was an action that resulted from these young men growing up in a way that left them with no respect for human life. Again, respect is free.
I want to round up local clergy and tell them that they don't have to stop fussing at killers, authorities and government officials, and neighbors who bite their tongues when they've witnessed crime. But maybe they should start using their pulpits to also fuss at the people raising violent killers. Point a few fingers and ask parents when was the last time they did homework with their kid and whether they know where their kids are at night. They might lose a few parishioners at first, but in the end, even the people who leave the church will be better off for having heard the blunt truth.
Home training. It's good for what ails ya.