BY SHARON MARTIN
If you believe someone’s coming after your guns, you’re an idiot.
The problem is the culture of violence, and there are solutions.
This week, a 10-year-old boy was among those shot following an argument at a barbershop in Tulsa. Oklahoma ranks third in number of women killed in single victim/single offender incidents. At school, we wear badges, lock our doors, and practice lockdowns. School shootings have become as common as the cold.
Violence isn’t one problem, and there isn’t one solution, but universal background checks to buy firearms might be a good place to start. It’s true that people will get around the laws. Individuals sell guns to individuals. Criminals don’t follow the rules. But if background checks will reduce the number of gun deaths, we have a moral duty to demand them.
The opportunity gap breeds violence. It makes sense to some young people to go into the drug business when the only other choice they see is grinding poverty.
If we want to stop gang violence and the destruction caused by drug trafficking, we need to look at economic solutions. We have to plug the school-to-prison pipeline. Education and social programs can chip away at generational poverty. We must admit that racism is a problem.
Taxpayers can demand that our representatives spend our tax money wisely. Money invested in education and job training saves money spent on social problems. That’s a fact legislators in Oklahoma choose to ignore.
Families are looking for mental health solutions. Universal healthcare is not only morally right, but it is economically sound. Healthy citizens are more productive.
Religion can be the answer or the problem. Humans are spiritual creatures. We need community. We need prayer and sacred thoughtfulness. We need our tribe.
But how many young people have had their lives destroyed by the very idea of hell? Guilt kills. So does hate. If your religion teaches that your way is the only way, you need to question its truth. If you believe that those who aren’t part of your religious inner circle are heretics and sinners who either must be saved or destroyed, you are part of the problem.
Violence is as dangerous as any other plague. We found a way to defeat smallpox. We are winning the war on polio. Healing our violent culture starts with honest discussions.
This is no longer about politics. We are tired of the platitudes and partisan talking points. If you are not willing to offer solutions, shut up and get out of the way.
– Sharon Martin lives in Oilton, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer