A word of caution: That’s often the wrong stance to take.
But Saturday’s bloodshed at an off-campus apartment complex a stone’s throw from Auburn University was so preventable that we can’t help but wonder: What’s going on in America?
The shooting that left three young men dead and three others wounded is not another tale of pampered college athletes acting like fools and breaking the law. Far from it. The shooting was a classic case of bad judgment, young tempers, alcohol, inflated testosterone — and a firearm.
The prevalence of handguns in the United States is an issue too large, and too critical, to tackle in one short essay. We’ll leave that be, for now.
Yet, the prevalence of Americans who seem altogether comfortable using a gun to settle disputes long ago became a curse on our nation’s streets. Interestingly, data released Monday from the Federal Bureau of Investigations show that violent crime fell 4 percent in 2011 — the fifth straight year of national declines. Violent crimes in the Southeast plummeted 4.5 percent in 2011, as well.
We’re not stunned by the irony there. It’s obvious.
But bloodshed is bloodshed, regardless of how it occurs. It stains the families of the killed and wounded. It saddens the hearts of communities. And it hardens the hearts of those who want nothing more than to inflict ultimate justice on those who pulled the trigger.
This type of violence harms everyone.
At any point last Saturday night, a different decision by someone at that apartment party — by the alleged gunman, by one of the young men involved in the altercation — might have scripted a more-peaceful ending to this tragic story. It might have created an old-style tale: Budweiser-fueled guys trading punches because one of them gazed too much at the other guy’s girl.
A few punches and bloody noses later, the deal was likely over.
Today, a segment of America’s culture seems different. It’s too sophomoric to compare it to the Wild West, where revolvers hung on every belt and barroom brawls ended in shootouts, or the Chicago days of Al Capone. That’s an overreaction, obviously.
But too often we hear of everyday people almost nonchalantly using guns to settle a difference or win a fight. Just look at Saturday night’s details; there was no gunfight, police say. It was an alleged shooter taking three young people’s lives in anger.
The human spirit, by its nature, is flawed. People will anger and fight. They will do regrettable things. But our love for this nation and its citizens nevertheless makes us yearn for the day when this sort of horrid, senseless violence is an extreme rarity.