“At what point do we as a community say enough is enough?”
“When do we collectively try to come up with a solution to the problem of gun violence in Jackson?”
“When do we put a stop to this?”
Those are all questions that are asked after each horrific episode of gun violence in Jackson and Madison County.
It happened this past weekend at the JCM Alumni Tailgate Party.
Before that, it was at North Park with multiple travel soccer teams practicing.
Unfortunately the sound of shots fired in Jackson isn’t a rare occurrence for some people, and to hear of a shooting that happened somewhere in Jackson isn’t a rarity either. But these recent high profile events bring the public discussion back to this topic.
And while those questions from earlier are all relevant, the important question may be “How?”
How does the community say enough is enough? How do we collectively solve the problem of gun violence in Jackson? How do we put a stop to this?
Stricter gun laws isn’t the answer for multiple reasons, with the main one being the guns are already out there in the hands of young people who should have a baseball bat or a musical instrument they’re learning to play or a book in their hand instead.
Harsher punishments? That sounds like a good idea in theory, but that theory runs into problems when the perpetrators don’t care about capital punishment and victims and witnesses are hesitant to tell law enforcement what happened and who was involved to arrest the right people and take care of them according to the law.
Better education? There’s something to that. If a child is able to read and has an idea of the potential he or she has with an education, he or she would hopefully make good choices that lead them away from gangs and violence. But I doubt we have many totally illiterate gang members out there.
There are so many subtle moving parts to the system that is life in Jackson that aren’t unique to here that affect choices young people make and potentially lead to shots being fired in crowded places.
If jobs paid more, would parents be able to have more income and lead a more productive lifestyle for their families to where they could be more involved in their children’s lives and maybe have that influence and family relationship that apparently is missing enough that the children find mentoring engagement in a gang?
If the parents were home more, would they be involved in their children’s education, thus giving them better odds at succeeding in the classroom?
Assuming money is the biggest reason marriages fail, would higher wages give opportunity for more two-parent homes, thus giving each child even more stability and hopefully a productive influence in the home that is more prone to be missing in a one-parent home?
Do families need more of a moral standard – whether that’s a religion or simply a goal of being a better person – to create better children to grow into better adults? (My personal solution in this paragraph is to get involved in a Bible-believing church, but there are those who don’t trust people in church that have found a moral standard elsewhere. And it works for some people, so don’t take this as a statement that non-Christians can’t be productive members of society.)
The fact of the matter is this is an extremely complicated problem that won’t be solved overnight. It’s not anything our elected officials can fix. It’s not even anything that will necessarily be fixed by the things I’ve suggested here. I’ve known plenty of people who came from two-parent homes that were in church most Sundays that grew up to be irresponsible people that made poor choices. Every possible perfect solution gets messed up by imperfect people.
But like the morbidly obese person who may a long way from being able to run a mile and convince him or herself to eat clean for a better diet, going for a walk around the block once or twice a day and cutting back on the food he or she does eat is a small step in the right direction that will hopefully lead to small wins. Then over time, small wins lead to larger wins.
Maybe Jackson and its violence problem are in a similar situation. We apparently can’t convince all 70,000 people in Jackson or 100,000 people in Madison County that shooting someone when it’s not in self-defense is a bad thing. But the percentage of people who do understand that is so much more overwhelming.
Most obese people don’t make a change until they go through a catastrophic episode that nearly kills them and they wake up in a hospital bed recovering from a heart attack or stroke.
Hopefully, this gets figured out before a catastrophe happens in Jackson.
Brandon Shields is the managing editor of The Jackson Post. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSEditorBrandon or Instagram @Editorbrandon.