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Violence: It’s not About Guns

Over the past few weekends, there were a number of shootings across the US. Austin, TX, Cleveland, OH, Chicago, IL and even sleepy little Savannah, GA became newsworthy due to the actions of a few individuals. It is absolutely tragic that six people lay dead and 38 were injured. For what? Someone got mad at someone else because of the way they looked at them? Because they looked at their boy/girl friend or some other supposed slight?

What gets my hackles up is it seems anytime an incident is reported, it happens to involve a firearm (i.e., ‘gun violence’). However, according to the FBI, almost 75% of aggravated assaults in 2019 were committed with something other than a firearm:

Personal weapons, such as hands, fists, or feet, were used in 25.2 percent of aggravated assaults, and knives or cutting instruments were used in 17.5 percent. Other weapons were used in 29.8 percent of aggravated assaults.[1]

Where is all the reporting on these crimes? Not gruesome enough? Not meeting a party line?

Let’s examine a few things. First, what is violence? Violence is defined as:

behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something.”

I do believe that shooting someone is a violent act. But so is hitting someone with a baseball bat, strangling them, hitting them with your fist or stabbing them. All these are violent acts, even if they are done in self-defense (read the definition again).

Are riots violent behavior? Last year, and through this year as well, there have been ‘peaceful protests’ (i.e., riots) in Minnesota, Seattle, and other areas. A riot is defined as:

“a violent disturbance of the peace by a crowd.” In Seattle, it was reported that, “the crowd continued throwing flares, bottles, eggs and paint at officers.” and “Crowd has thrown flares, bottles, eggs, paint and a bag of unidentified liquid at officers.”

Sounds like violence to me.

Domestic violence - or what public health advocates call intimate partner violence (IPV). We only seem to hear about this type of violence when a sports star or other celebrity figure is involved. However, the following statistics[2] indicate a far more dire situation:

· 37.4% of Georgia women and 30.4% of Georgia men experience intimate partner physical violence, sexual violence and/or stalking in their lifetimes.

· In 2019, Georgia domestic violence programs answered 52,282 crisis calls.

· Georgia domestic violence shelters provided shelter to 7,214 victims of domestic violence in FY 2019. An additional 4,176 were turned away due to lack of bed space.

· In 2017, Georgia had the 10th highest rate in the US of women murdered by men.

· As of December 31, 2019, Georgia had submitted one misdemeanor domestic violence and no active protective order records to the NICS Index.

What about gang violence? It seems we never hear about a ‘gang’ that gives out blankets to the homeless during the winter or food to the needy. Violent gangs are commonly prison gangs, street gangs and motorcycle gangs … not the ‘Spanky and Our Gang’ neighborhood groups. Most politicians don’t even mention the word ‘gang’ so to not stir the populace into frenzy. There was a report written back in the late 1980’s regarding gangs and gang activity in Savannah. After it was turned in and read by the ’head shed’, it was unceremoniously returned with the terse admonition that, “We don’t have any gangs in Savannah.” That was until a little bug named Ricky Jivens surfaced in Savannah, and it wasn’t until an Ardsley Park resident who was shot dead while walking his dog (and the dog too) so that the shooter could earn membership to the gang, and a downtown restaurant day manager shot outside the Pink House on Reynolds Square that the issues of a potential gang problem popped up.

What’s the common thread here? Not gun violence, not gang violence, not domestic violence. It’s violent behavior! The choice of weapon is irrelevant. Violence against women and men, violence against parents trying to protect their families, and violence against those merely interested in protecting themselves. Here’s a thought – Violence cuts across all races and demographics – white, black, Asian, Hispanic – all of us are victims of violence. Maybe not directly, but by being afraid to go out to dinner or allow our children to play outside for fear of being injured we are impacted.

With the scenes that played out over the last few weekends all around the country, it seems we are in for a long hot summer. Riots, unrest, higher crime rates and other violence are sure to raise their collective ugly heads.

Maybe it does take a village.

Stay Safe!

[1] [2] National Coalition Against Domestic Violence; Domestic Violence in Georgia.


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