Gun Violence and ‘Responsibility’

DeWayne Wickham unveils some groundbreaking sociological findings in the pages of USA Today:

In Chicago alone, more than 270 children have been killed since 2007. And most of them were killed by other blacks, as are most of the nation’s homicide victims. But the responsibility for this violence—and the obligation to do something about it—belongs to all of us.

This slaughter is also the fault of those who think more prisons, not better schools, is the answer to youth violence. It stains the hands of those who oppose efforts to keep weapons meant for war from being sold as freely as a loaf of bread. It is inextricably tied to the members of Congress who kowtow to the National Rifle Association even as the epidemic of school shootings prove that there is no haven of any of our children from the unchecked gun violence that was once seen as largely a fixture of America’s black ghettos.

I’m sorry, you haven’t seen the numerous studies that draw a causal relation between an individual’s opposition to the assault weapons ban and gangland killings in Chicago? Or the passage in Weber in which he concludes empirically that “the answer to youth violence” is “better schools”? Perhaps that’s because neither exists. There is, however, a large body of research, going back decades, which suggests a correlation between family breakdown and criminal behavior. And which is not cited by Wickham at all. What he does do is threaten the business travelers who read USA Today that if they refuse to take “responsibility” for actions they did not commit, “this bloodshed” will “spread to the cul-de-sacs and bedroom communities into which those who think this is not their problem have retreated.” So they should consider themselves warned. Who at USA Today, meanwhile, will take “responsibility” for printing junk? And will they act on their “obligation to do something about it”?