PERRY: More cops, more outrage and more thoughts and prayers won’t end shootings in Aurora or anywhere

1144
Law enforcement officers survey the scene of a drive-by shooting that left six teenagers injured in a park, Monday, Nov. 15, 2021, in Aurora, Colo. (Philip B. Poston/Sentinel Colorado via AP)

EDITOR’S NOTE: THIS COLUMN WAS FIRST PUBLISHED HOURS AFTER THE FIRST SCHOOL-RELATED SHOOTING THIS WEEK IN AURORA, ON NOV. 15.

As if we’re stuck on an Insanity Island, we find ourselves circling back to this familiar useless place, grateful that this mass shooting didn’t kill anyone.

It’s pathetic.

After the usual rounds of thoughts and prayers were issued by elected and appointed officials across the state and across the nation, Aurora and the metro area began the all-too familiar routine of trying to sort this mass shooting out. Now comes the shaking of heads, the clucking of tongues and the wagging of fingers in some pretense that we’ll actually do something — this time.

I’m not being cynical in assuring everyone that nothing will change. There will be another mass shooting where thoughts and prayers are issued and we’re thankful that no one was killed, or not as many as might have been.

Being inured to all this, rather than clairvoyant, I can promise you what will happen. Because I have seen the pattern for decades, the response from Congress to City Hall is as faithful as tomorrow’s sunrise.

Team Conservative will immediately demand, first, that those responsible be held accountable. Then they’ll press on the police to “do something” to stem the wave of violence we’re seeing now, which is not at all unlike the wave of violence we’ve seen come and go for the past 30 years or more.

This knee-jerk response has already started with Mayor Mike Coffman, who for years as a congressperson was no friend of gun control and enjoyed a pleasant 93% rating from the National Rifle Association. He and many others from Team Conservative suffer from the debunked notion that police can prevent crimes like this week’s shooting of six teenage students in the park next to Aurora Central High School, or any of the dozens of lesser shootings between friends and enemies in Aurora and the metro area.

After the Columbine massacre, Aurora’s Labor Day massacre, the brutal murder of state Sen. Rhonda Fields’ son and his fiancé, the Arapahoe High School shooting, hundreds of single shootings, the STEM High School shooting and the Aurora theater shooting massacre, a misled cadre of elected leaders look to the cops to stem the bloodshed.

It’s not that they won’t. They can’t. Police react to crime and are the chief tool in stopping any shooting rampage that’s already underway and later presenting suspects and evidence to the courts for prosecution.

That’s it. Despite the empty and inane promises made by many, many elected officials going back many, many years, neither Aurora nor Denver can patrol our way to fewer murders. We cannot harass thousands of kids who wear baggy pants or Raiders hoodies and expect the number of shootings to stop. There aren’t enough Jersey barriers in the world to keep people from shooting each other or innocent bystanders.

Literally, Aurora and Denver have been there, done that, just like dozens of other cities across the country.

It doesn’t mean police don’t have an important role in disrupting gun violence, especially among kids and gangs. Every police chief, including those in Denver and Aurora now, will tell you there’s real value in intelligence work by cops, finding out what’s up with gang turf wars and revenge episodes.

What follows this hollow push to police the community out of frequent shootings is the “tough on crime” fallacy, insisting that we lock up all the perps and never let them out of jail. What came from that mess, which started in earnest in Colorado in the early 1980s, are prisons and jails filled with people locked up at enormous public expense, hosting victims of misjustice, jailed for most of their lives for crimes that don’t warrant virtual life sentences.

It’s not a faded adage that throwing kids in jail simply turns them into real and lifelong criminals.

Despite the no, nope and oh-hell-no evidence of decades of failed tough-on-crime tactics, I promise you, there will be a push from members and candidates for congress down to school boards and city councils to round ‘em up and lock ‘em up.

Across the aisles and daises, on Team Liberal, the push will be for more programs in schools and community centers to give kids something to do other than practice shooting guns while playing hours of stunningly real and violent Xbox games. Team Blue demands that communities do more than just bang a judge’s gavel at kids and store them in juvenile “correction” facilities until they can be released to commit increasingly worse crimes.

What they won’t do is admit that schools are already so overburdened that there’s no way in hell they can take on parenting kids out of getting into gangs, guns and lifelong grief. Restorative justice is a grand and truly effective way to not only promote healing by victims and perpetrators alike, but it’s vastly expensive and time consuming to do it in a way that actually works.

What Team Blue too often won’t stand behind is either cutting other government services to pay for programs that truly can make a difference in the lives of kids before and after they become criminals, or raising taxes for the sole purpose of effectively helping kids move in a direction in their lives that’s better for them, and better for all of us.

Colorado is under the firm control of a solidly liberal state Senate, state House and governor’s office. So what’s the holdup?

Too often, Team Blue will shy away from pointing the finger at parents, too overburdened with their own lives to keep kids like Columbine shooters Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, Aurora theater shooting gunman James Holmes and the parents of the shooters who fired on six kids in an Aurora park last week accountable.

The Sentinel and just about every newspaper in the country have run endless stories about gang members lamenting that it was the allure of gang life — cool cars, guns, power, belonging and girls — that drew them in as parents and family looked the other way.

But the most egregious reflex response will come from gun rights activists and their elected supporters. Since even before Columbine, more than 20 years ago, the senseless chestnut that “guns don’t kill people…” will weave its way into the discourse.

Gun obsessions are malevolent problems and portents of disasters for everyone who suffers from them. Rudderless kids, however, smitten with the idea of being grown-up and powerful with a handgun or an AR-15 are far, far more dangerous to themselves and everyone than a kid with a pocket knife or a nunchucks.

It doesn’t mean we’re doomed to suffer the scourge of gun violence. It means that we choose to do it. State and city lawmakers refuse to enact meaningful gun bans, buy-backs and stiff penalties, despite overwhelming public opinion behind it. State and city lawmakers refuse to fully fund effective but costly ways to keep kids from becoming perps, or prevent them from becoming even more dangerous to themselves and others. State and local leaders continue to heap unrealistic expectations on what law enforcement and the justice system can actually do to stem gun violence and other juvenile crime. Parents refuse to do the hard work of parenting.

And voters keep choosing the elected officials who perpetuate all of this. If you want different, choose different.

Follow @EditorDavePerry on Twitter and Facebook or reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected]

  

3.8 4 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
18 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
FeelingsAreNotFacts
FeelingsAreNotFacts
13 days ago

If you want different, choose different.”

Aurora just did. Were you napping through the last Aurora City Council election?

Joe Felice
Joe Felice
8 days ago

Thanks to you, yes. Now watch as nothing changes.

Publius
Publius
13 days ago

The fiance` had a name. She was Vivian Wolfe. Her mother not being in the State legislature does not make her less worthy of remembrance or mention.

Her murderers remain alive today thanks in no small part to our former Governor’s stance on capital punishment.

Me, I suspect that gun control measures would prove ineffectual. I admit I do not know this, I only suspect it. I will say that my objections to such measures are somewhat pragmatic. To begin, I do not support “interpretation” of the 2nd amendment. If that”right” does not serve society, or if it no longer serves society perhaps having once done so, let us not pretend it does not mean what it clearly meant. Rather, let us avail ourselves of one of the other gifts our founders bequethed to us.Let us amend it through the constitutionaL process. This paper could start that discussion. To reach the end of that process we would all have to come together, or many more of us would than are now likely to do so in our fractious political environment. We would have to treat each other with respect. We would have to listen. We would have to seek common ground for the good of all. The amendment process is actually a precious gift from persons with great foresight. It is meant tlo unite us. Maybe we should open that gift. Let us be pragmatic and do this thing correctly rather than trying to expedite the process through political wrangling, the very wrangling which has done anything bit expedite soxcietal evolution in this regard.

My second reservation has to do with gun buy-backs. Past iterations of such programs have been very generous to those with broken weapons of no real value, paying them a set price for their weapons. Those programs, have, however, often suffered from not offering realistic market prices for many weapons of fine quality nor have they offered any recompense for related property made worthless without a weapon to givre them purpose such as ammunition, cleaning kits, storage equipment like locks and safes, and other related materials. If offered fair market value for my property I would stongly consider relinguishing it to determine whether this had a pallative effect on society as a whole. I suspect that it will not. I suspect that the darkness lies within us and as tool-users we will find other efficient tools to vent our sicknesses upon our fellow man. I am mindful that though there have been spectacular examples of gun violence they pale in comparision to say, using fire to kill. You may want to check out the largest lost of life in a school incident. Fire was then the tool of choice, not guns. It may become the tool of choice again. Still, it does seem time to move this discussion in one direction or another. As you state the status quo is unacceptable so movement does seem the only option.

Doug King
Doug King
12 days ago
Reply to  Publius

Nice….well thought out (just one thing….school buildings now have fire suppression systems installed which work pretty darn well. There’s no such thing for an active shooter though)

None
None
13 days ago

Please explain exactly what you mean by restorative Justice

Debra MacKillop
Debra MacKillop
11 days ago
Reply to  None

go read about it yourself. It’s been used in many states including CO. A friend has volunteered with the restorative justice program in Longmont. I watched it up close and remarkable. My daughter went through the restorative justice program at CUBoulder for a drinking offense and it had a really great and life-saving impact for her, as opposed to what the experience would have been with the cops. Do your work to learn.

Doug King
Doug King
13 days ago

Well, damn, Dave, you seriously put it all out there! And I couldn’t have said it better myself though I have tried and tried. So I thank you!!!

BlueBird
12 days ago

Well said, Dave Perry. As you point out, a combination of smart policing, excellent schools, less guns, and better parenting will all need to become priorities of our state. But Colorado families are witnessing an insane acceleration of all crimes, many involving guns, and they want to feel safe NOW. Colorado needs lengthy mandatory sentences for all the adults and juveniles who use a gun, possess a gun, or participate in a crime where a gun is present. That kind of mandatory sentencing would at least quickly clear the streets of the most dangerous criminals.

Factory Working Orphan
Factory Working Orphan
11 days ago
Reply to  BlueBird

“Colorado needs lengthy mandatory sentences for all the adults and juveniles who use a gun, possess a gun, or participate in a crime where a gun is present.”–Huh, this is sounding so familiar, where have I heard it before? Oh yeah:

“_______ needs lengthy mandatory sentences for all the adults and juveniles who use drugs, possess drugs, or participate in a crime where drugs are present.”

The War on Guns will end up having the same effect that the War on Drugs did.

Joe Felice
Joe Felice
12 days ago

“Aurora strong” certainly doesn’t cut it anymore. What’s pathetic is our Country and its unwillingness to do the necessary things to stop the madness. Some people’s obsession with an object of killing can never inure to our benefit.

So here we are praying, crying, and beating our breasts yet once again, as we all offer ourselves up as willing victims to people with guns. Perhaps it’s just our Country’s destiny set in place by our failure to abide by the ENIRETY of the Second Amendment and incorrect Supreme-Court rulings of the past.

“They” are known to say “SOMEONE needs to do SOMETHING,” as “they” wash their hands and obstruct those who try to do exactly as they say. Amazing! The true solutions do start at a deeper level and lie mostly with the schools, mental-health programs and the parents. But what kind of elements are those these days? In the meantime, we need to get and keep guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them, but “they” frame that solution as depriving “responsible” gun owners (whatever few of them that are left) of their Second-Amendment rights. More amazement!

Doug King
Doug King
12 days ago
Reply to  Joe Felice

just when do ‘responsible gun owners’ become the other kind though? how do we tell the difference? How many can we afford to incarcerate ? How many kids ? Why not try to head off the perps before they get to that point.

vern
vern
12 days ago

Well I find myself having to agree… something I would like to be able to do more often. The solution is not easy, it has so many edges to deal with. Police can’t address the problem as any move leaves the city and them facing lawsuits and threatens the job they try bravely to do every day. Parents can’t control the kids. Churches don’t have the attendance from the kids and people that do the crimes. People have lost the desire to be fair and listen to arguments. Everyone seems mad as hell and will do anything… and media will say anything to advance their bias.

Doug King
Doug King
12 days ago
Reply to  vern

just how would you like the police to address the problem? Shoot first and worry about it later? That creates even more lawsuits. Maybe pass laws taking away the right to sue? Maybe ‘forcing’ people to go to church and force religion down their throats? uh, no that’s not allowed either. You are correct. The solution isn’t easy.

Factory Working Orphan
Factory Working Orphan
11 days ago
Reply to  Doug King

Who would have expected that the tree of a rotten society produces rotten fruit? Perry can screech for all the gun restrictions he wants, but that’s not going to fix the inherent dysfunctions of the Calhoun rat experiment that the Denver metro area, and Aurora in particular, has become.

Debra MacKillop
Debra MacKillop
11 days ago

Thank you Dave Perry.

Joe Felice
Joe Felice
8 days ago

Our Country and the places GUNS have taken us are pathetic. Everyone knows what needs to be done, but won’t as we play politics with people’s lives. Whoever thought GUNS would be more important than people?

DICK MOORE
DICK MOORE
7 days ago
Reply to  Joe Felice

Who would have thought that Prairie Dogs are more important than citizens of Aurora for some Council members?

DICK MOORE
DICK MOORE
7 days ago

It’s all about the parenting. Fix the parents. Start with Mrs. McClain. Oh, but she’s a millionaire role model to her community.