Having spent yesterday talking about why we don’t have a spike in gun violence because of all those guns being sold, I think it’s incumbent upon Mike the Gun Guy, or Mike the Know-It-All Gun Guy, to at least come up with a different theory as to why gun violence appears to be out of control. So here goes.

I have a friend, a Black guy, who was a street cop for 20 years in a very high-crime neighborhood located in one of the cities which has recently been experiencing a sharp increase in gun violence, especially random, sporadic shootings in the street. This particular city was a leader in developing anti-gun violence programs and until last year had an annual gun-violence rate which was among the country’s lowest for a city that size.

While my friend was on the job, he finished college. He also did law school and when he took his twenty, he became first a prosecutor, then a judge. Then he went into politics, ran once, and lost, then ran again and was elected to the city council where he still serves and has been mentioned as an up-and-coming mayoral candidate with the possibility of even going beyond to Governor, or Senator, or whatever position is available when he’s ready to run again.

Several years ago, before anyone ever heard of Covid-19, I happened to spend an hour with my friend talking over new and old times. I asked him if being a cop today was different from when he first went on the job. And without so much as hesitating for one second, he replied, “The difference today is that nobody backs down.”

I keep thinking about what my friend said to me that day. I also keep thinking about the growth of a culture which increasingly celebrates the idea that the only way you get any idea across is to plant yourself squarely in someone else’s face. And don’t make the mistake of thinking that this culture is just coming from Trump and the MAGA gang. It’s all over the place and has been out there long before anyone ever heard of Donald Trump.

Know what that schmuck from Florida, Ron DeSantis told a crowd in Pittsburgh back in May? He said, and I quote: “The way to win is to fight back and not take it anymore. Stand your ground!”

Want another version?  Try this video. Here’s a better one – right out of the ‘hood.

 My friends in Gun-control Nation have been lamenting the growth in Stand Your Ground (SYG) laws, claiming that such laws not only encourage people to carry guns, but have made it easier for someone who shoots someone else to claim self-defense. This is particularly true if the shooter happens to be White and the guy who was shot happens to be Black.

That’s all fine and well, but Gun-control Nation’s response to SYG laws doesn’t help us understand how and why such laws exist only in the United States. How come SYG laws only appeared in the United States and don’t exist in countries like Australia and South Africa that were also colonized by populations that brought the same Common Law legal tradition with them when they came from Great Britain and settled frontier zones?

Violence, whether it’s between individuals or between nation-states, happens to be the only threat to the human community that we still don’t understand or know how to prevent. We know how to slow down global warming, we know how to feed the world’s hungry, we know how to identify and eradicate disease. We may not have the political will necessary to respond to those threats, but we know what to do.

For reasons that I don’t know, this country is enamored of violence and this love affair is not going to end just because we enact another law to keep guns out of the ‘wrong hands.’

We need to begin replacing a culture of violence with a culture of non-violence. Easier said than done.