We soon realize we are not high above the audience; we are actually walking a tight rope right in the middle of them. In fact, we are a part of that audience of spectators, good and not so good. This is the question: How can we keep a balance between good and evil, when our way is so confusing?
Take, for example, gun control.
Among the spectators are Second Amendment proponents who vigorously defend their right to bear arms for lawful purposes, e.g., self-defense against intruders and other criminals, etc. But isn’t it also possible that “stand your ground” can easily be transformed into self-offense against those people that we just don’t like?
This is not a racist statement, for it goes both ways. Let us always remember Dr. King was above racism. He reminds all of us to judge a person “not by the color of their skin, but the content of their character.”
Let us also remember that we walk on a tight rope with other citizens who advocate national legislation, placing new limits on firearms, or at least requiring a background check for the purchase of guns from private or show gun dealers.
We walk on a tight rope.
We have 310 million guns in our nation, more than one gun for every citizen. Our federal laws are very relaxed, almost permissive. It’s no wonder we have the highest number of gun murders in the world. Additionally, we do not ban semi-automatic assault weapons or large-capacity ammunition magazines.
Suffice it to say, we are walking a tight rope in the midst of this highly controversial issue related to guns.
Furthermore, we have had mass killings during the last 30 years. In California, there were 21, 13 in Colorado, 32 in Virginia, and 27 in Connecticut.
Remember Newtown, Conn.: the mass murder of 20 of our innocent school children, and seven adults who tried to protect them. That was just too much. It shook us to the core, and their parents will not let them be forgotten. They are pushing for protective legislation from federal and local governments to be enforced and to do as much as possible to ensure the safety of our children.
Another shocking incident of gun violence occurred earlier in 2012.
On Feb. 26, 2012 in Samford, Fla., Georgia Zimmerman, a thirty-something adult, killed an unarmed teenager, barely 17 years of age. Zimmerman shot Martin with a 9 millimeter hand gun, declaring he killed Martin in self-defense. Zimmerman pursued Martin, though the teenager had not confronted Zimmerman, and was trying to get away from him.
Self-defense? Martin weighed 140 lbs. Zimmerman weighed 250 lbs.
Self-defense? Martin had no criminal record, but Zimmerman was charged in July 2005 with resisting arrest and violently battering an officer. The charges appear to have been dropped.
Self-defense? Zimmerman had been subject to complaints from his neighbors for his aggressive tactics. He has called the police 46 times since 2011.
Self-defense? Zimmerman was not a member of a registered neighborhood watch group. Nevertheless, he violated watch group guidelines by being armed at all times.
The jury declared Zimmerman not guilty of the charges brought against him. He is free today.
Trayvon Martin was shot to death by a man twice his size and is gone forever. His blood cries out from the ground to us.
Even though we may be inexperienced performers walking the tight rope in the midst of strong gun advocates on one hand, and strong gun regulatory advocates on the other, can’t we travel together and keep our balance? Really listen to each other as we walk together?
- Discuss placing a higher tax on all guns and ammunition purchased, and donate these funds to families of fallen law enforcement officers and wounded military personnel returning from battle.
- Understand the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder and strongly support treatment centers designed to help these brothers and sisters in critical periods of need.
- Make available several public anger management courses in our religious institutions and community facilities.
- President Obama is asking Congress to provide funds for research on the link between violence, video games and parental supervision. Don’t let the TV dictate your children’s exposure to gun violence. You are the parent. You are responsible.
- Help teachers respond to mental illness, referring students in need to local or regional mental health services.
- Suggest ways people without weapons can be protected.
I urge you to share your reflections on this topic with me.
Joseph L. Roberts, Jr.