It’s easy for people to celebrate Valentines Day without thinking about the many broken hearts out there. Today in Minnesota and North Dakota, there are more families grieving over the sudden loss of a loved one because of a shooting. This past week a Fargo, North Dakota police officer lost his life in a shooting during a domestic dispute. Domestic incidents are the most dangerous for officers because they are coming between a desperate and angry person and their intent to take the life of someone they love(d) or someone they hate or someone they perceive to have done them wrong or someone they want to destroy because of a broken heart.
In the Fargo case, the gunman had a record and should not have been able to get a gun. From the article linked above:
Schumacher has a criminal history that includes a conviction for negligent homicide for the October 1988 shooting of a 17-year-old boy, Maynard Clauthier. Schumacher was sentenced in 1991 to five years in prison, court records show.
But we all know how easy it is to access guns in our country. And we also know that we have ignored this inconvenient fact in order to show some kind of “respect” or fear of the corporate gun lobby. Some people love them. Some people are not in love and want a divorce with a reasonable settlement. Common sense tells us that this shooter is one who, had we tried harder to keep him from getting a gun, may not have been able to shoot this officer.
Two nights ago in Plymouth, Minnesota, a man with a violent record, a “black” shotgun, rounds of ammunition and a bullet proof vest wreaked havoc on a public street while motorists watched him mow down a woman who had run from his car. In an apparent domestic dispute, a man threatened a woman with his gun and chased her on a busy suburban street until he killed her. Horrified drivers watched this unfold. The man fled to his apartment building where he threatened innocent people by ramming into their cars and pointing his weapon. Thank goodness the only person to die at that scene was the gunman. A couple with young children escaped narrowly.
The shooter had a record that prohibited him from getting guns (from the article):
Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek, who appeared at the news conference with Goldstein, said the man had criminal convictions for violent offenses and was not legally in possession of the rifle, handgun, ammunition and “tactical vest” he was wearing.
For American women, those incidents amount to a typically fatal stretch. According to FBI and statecrime data analyzed by the Associated Press, at least 6,875 people were fatally shot by romantic partners from 2006 to 2014. Eighty percent of those victims were women. On average, that works out to 554 annual fatal shootings of an American woman by a current or former romantic partner during the nine years examined, or one every 16 hours.
These are the broken hearts. These are the broken families. This is our broken system.
It doesn’t have to be this way. We can do much much better at changing the statistics and changing the conversation. One way to do that is to change some laws to expand our Brady background check system to make sure felons and domestic abusers have a much much harder time getting their hands on guns. We can do better at changing the conversation about the risks of guns in homes. They are far more likely to be used in incidents like the ones I write about than in self defense.
Let’s get to work in the name of love. Let’s stop some of the daily carnage. Let’s do what Diana Ross and the Supremes, asks of us: