Publisher Larry Tobin's column from May 1 Tomahawk Leader:
Here we go again. Some guy goes wacko and a huge chunk of the American population wants us all to take a dive off the deep end as a result.
Certainly we’re all shocked and dismayed over the killings that took place on the Virginia Tech campus a couple of weeks ago. The horror of it is unspeakable and I can’t begin to imagine the agony of the students, faculty and their families.
While the anger and frustration of a senseless tragedy is understandable, the latest focus on the weapons used is not. Again the major media and a lot of politicians are aiming at guns and their accessibility to the American public. But, as usual, that should not be the primary focus in this or any other case. The primary focus should be on the ‘why’ and the ‘who’ of the crime.
Probably not so many of you remember anymore a guy named Richard Speck. In the mid-1960s, he killed nine student nurses in Chicago one night – with a knife! Certainly, the public was shocked but there were no calls to ban knives.
Then there was a worse tragedy a few years ago, one that killed 168 people in Oklahoma City. A guy named Theodore McVay parked a truck loaded with explosives in front of a federal building and exploded it. Again, people were shocked and horrified but there have been no calls to ban step vans and fertilizer (the primary ingredient in the bomb).
And remember the worst tragedy of all on our soil – 9/11! That one involved airplanes.
Still, people clamor to have gun ownership by private citizens outlawed.
Among them is one of my college classmates who writes for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. He is always bemoaning the fact that there are so many people being murdered in Milwaukee.
At one point I asked him if he could explain why some cities have so many gun murders while others do not. For instance, Gary, Ind., traditionally has one of the highest murder rates in the country, while St. Paul, Minn., usually has one of the lowest. Milwaukee is above average in the statistical count as well.
He could not.
While I can’t remember the exact figures now, I pointed out to him that Milwaukee was averaging a sizeable number of gun deaths per every 100,000 population. Using whatever figure that was, I noted that Tomahawk should be having one murder a year and Lincoln County should be having 10 if guns were the primary issue in the killings. And, I told him, I would make a very large wager that Tomahawk has more guns per capita and per household than does the City of Milwaukee.
Well, I’ve been in Tomahawk 25 years and there have been two murders in that time. One of those, as we sadly know, was just recently and involved a knife. The other took place many years ago and a shotgun was used.
I don’t even recall an armed robbery in town in that time. The typical crime involving a gun in this part of the country is shooting a deer out of season (or out a vehicle window).
The fact is that gun crime is primarily an urban issue. Certainly it’s the weapon of choice for some. But if someone really wants to kill another person – or a lot of people – they will do it. In the 1930s in Kansas City the Mob used to have people run over with automobiles. They were chalked up as traffic fatalities, but murdered just the same. How many there and other places, we’ll never know for sure.
Knives will always be available; bombs can be made with information gathered on the Internet; airplanes can be flown into buildings. And there are other despicable ways of killing masses of people that I don’t even want to bring up.
Like I said, we need to focus on the ‘why’ of murder, along with the ‘who’ is doing it, not the weapon involved.