Friday, February 8, 2008

Suburban Senselessness

The close approximation of the The Loop and The Lou (the cities, not the blog) has inevitably formed a relationship between the two cities. Whether it be through the Cubs and Cardinals or Imo's and Gino's East or the teams formerly known as the Blues and the Blackhawks.

But I wake up today to to find another a new relationship: Inexplicable loss. Two of the three metro areas that I have called home, have been hit by senseless murder within the past week. A robbery in Tinley Park, IL last Saturday and a suprise attack on a civic meeting in Kirkwood, MO last night, both claimed 5 innocent lives. Two of our (Roller and I) closest friends from high school reside with their families, in Kirkwood. Three women I worked with for the past three football seasons live in Tinley Park. Thankfully, I recognized no last names among those who were killed, but I'm sure that brings little solace to the people who did.

We call it entertainment when this happens on TV and Briscoe and Green are dutifully tracking the case. But we call it horror if you happen to go shopping on a Saturday or participate in the civic process on Thursday. We call it terrorism when someone from another country does this. But we doing enough to protect ourselves from our own terrorists?

TATL sends out its thoughts and prayers to both towns and all the friends and families affected by these acts.


Roller said...

Tough times for Kirkwood, MO. It was only a little over a year ago that they were rocked by the Michael Devlin case.

Nicole made an interesting observation about Kirkwood this morning. It's a suburb, but has healthy portions of all points on the socio-economic spectrum. You have really rich, to really poor, and everywhere in between. Kind of a microcosm of a big city. Webster Groves is the same way. Is Tinley Park?

I'm not bringing this up to suggest "this kind of crime wouldn't happen in name-your-town", but I'm sure that poorer people living in the neighborhood over from the well-off breeds tension.

Coovo said...

I don't know a lot about Tinley Park. I know that it is pretty far south and is home to the outdoor concert venue like riverport in the Lou.

I read in one of the articles a woman compared Kirkwood to "Mayberry". Not quite. If I had to pick a town in the Chicago Metro are similar to K-wood, i would say like a smaller Evanston or like Oak Park/River Forest. Definitely not Mayberry.

Gene said...

Guys, I have to tell you this one has me shaken up. What a terrible story.

Last night, Peter and I headed home from his basketball practice which took place at the YMCA on Adams and Kirkwood. We curled around to the south as we headed home, passing within a couple blocks of the tragedy that was unfolding concurrently. If I had my windows open, I may have heard something...

45 minutes later, I was downstairs and heard an especially loud plea from Anne for some help. She urged me to watch Channel 5 right away. They were describing some sort of assault or attack at Kirkwood City Hall, but details were sketchy. I actually had been on my way out the door at the moment to go to see a new baby at St. Anthony's, but we quickly realized something bad was happening in our city and we had no idea if the wrongdoer was at large. I immediately locked every door, turned on every outside light and grabbed my Matt Rollo "Uhbaby" baseball bat, my best weapon. I knew somewhere in my brain that we were all safe, but too many details were unknown and some vestigial part of my brainstem insisted that I break out the baseball bat. Possibly the same part of the brain that overwhelmed poor Cookie Thornton.

The details that came over the next few hours went from scary, to frightening, to downright horrifying. Fairly quickly it became clear there wasn't some sort of loony on the prowl, so Anne gave me the green light to head to work. Entering St. Anthony's at a smidge before 9 pm to see my patient we knew there was one dead officer. Leaving 35 minutes later, there were five dead and others severely injured.

Anne and I were glued to the television late last night, in shock like most of you. While we were relieved to learn we didn't know any victims closely, the pain of a city taking such a blow has has hit me heavily all day. I've been making silly mistakes today without much excuse. My coworkers have looked at me more than once today with empathy, trying cheer me up even though I didn't realize what they were doing at the time. With all due respect to the terrors experienced by Shawn Hornback and Ben Ownby, this is not Michael Devlin... this is much, much more terrible. This is Columbine. This is a sick person with available guns attacking and killing innocent people.

I love my Dad, but he'd be pissed with what I have to say next: get rid of the f'n guns!! I've always believed in the rights of the gun owner in the past, but I'm not so sure of that point of view anymore. Homes with guns yield more accidental deaths. Period. That's a fact.

Would prohibiting legal gun ownership decrease gun crime? Good question, don't know the answer. Another question is whether homeowner gun presence prevents crime (i.e. is the guy with the 44 Smith & Wesson less likely to be robbed,) another good question which I don't know the answer to.

What I do know is that our system does not work. This current system does not work.

I remember playing baseball at Blackburn on the day of Columbine. I distinctly remember my stomach dropping and having this sense of doom. I had a similar sense yesterday, but it quickly became distict. My feeling of shock was fairly quickly overwhelmed by sadness, by the pure emotion of my city in tears.

I've never felt this way before, and I hope that as a community we figure a way to keep it from ever happening again.

My thoughts and prayers to the victims, the police officers and county official, their families and friends, and to Cookie, who found the most wrongful way to be heard. May they all rest in peace and their families find solace in due time.

Gene said...

"Distinct" becomes a less distinct adjective when distinctly overused. I'll proofread next next time.

Coovo said...

Didn't notice Geno. Thanks for sharing your comments.

If you're lucky enough to drive along I-55 (in Roller's case) or I-57 (in mine) you see little white signs that follow one another to form a message. Each one ends up with Really? Only if you have enough time to use it, which two cops in Kirkwood did not.

Ryan said...

From here, just glad everyone I know is safe in old Kirkwood.

Nicole said...

I'm in agreement with you about the gun control issue. My dad and your dad would be on the same page, but I think we need more regulation and in general a lot fewer guns. I don't have any hard numbers about it, but my instinct tells me that the fewer guns (legal or illegal) on the streets, the few gun related violent incidents will take place. I'm curious what others think.


Roller said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Geno (and everyone).

Yes, the route from STL to BLM is peppered with rhymes like:

Chicago says
No to guns
In violent crimes
They're #1.


Feelin' lucky?
Remember Sonny,
That rabbit foot
won't save no bunny


Freedom from foreign oil
starts right here

I'm not sure about the last one's stance on gun control.

Geno, I don't see how anyone can argue with your point. I think people will always argue that someone who really wants a gun will be able to get one. That's probably true. But it seems logical that making it harder for someone to get a gun would save lives.

Roller said...

p.s. Geno, I also utilize a Louisville Slugger as a crime deterrent. I don't have to worry about my kids stumbling upon that and playing with it.

Ryan said...

well, I think emotions are running high now and that makes it difficult for all sides to be brought out in discussion.

I don't know if I believe those signs that more guns prevent violence. I also don't know that I believe we can regulate guns to prevent things like what happened in Kirkwood or Chi from happening. It's easy in hindsight to say the courthouse should have had a medal detector, or something like that, but that's difficult to scale... do we put metal detectors everywhere? And we also have to ask, how much worse would it have been if cops with guns hadn't been there to take that guy out? Or what if an armed guard had been in that store?

Bad things happen, regardless of laws or the tools used to make them happen. Swimming pools are much more dangerous for your kids than having a gun in your house, for example. In Minneapolis, we've had a conceal and carry law now for a few years, and as far as I know, zero people have been killed by permitted guns (although illegal gun violence has continued). Whereas, 5 people have been killed by our light rail system that became operational about the same time.

9/11 terrorists killed 3,000 people with carpet knives.

Anyway, perhaps I'm aggravating people, and I'm not trying to, especially given how personal it is. But it's hard to make sense of how gun regulations would do anything. We've seen how the places that prohibit guns the most end up causing the most sitting ducks: schools. School shooting are the most horrific.

There's no way to eliminate violence in the world, with guns, without them, but perhaps we can keep the violence as localized and as small as possible.

It's unfortunate that guns last so long, or else maybe we could develop a plan to significantly reduce their existence.

Coovo said...

I'm a little frightened now. How am I supposed to protect myself with no Louisville slugger? Good thing I don't have kids.

Ryan, I think medal detectors are necessary everywhere. I don't want Olympic Champions thinking they can bring their medals with them wherever they want. Don't even get me started on Goodwill Game's medalist.

I'm not sure if I kept it in my post but I had written, how long will it be until Metal detectors are everywhere we go.

You make great points Ryan. I might even say I sort of agree with you on regulations. However, each of those things that are a potential hazard to people (swimming pools, light rail) also provide a service that people enjoy and/or benefit from. The only reason I can think of that a person would want to carry a gun (besides hunting) is protection from other guns. That logic is backward.

I understand that reality and logic are two different things. My view might be very different if didn't have a suburban upbringing. I've never been around guns. But as someone who had (has) a severe temper problem as a kid and suffers from depression as an adult I fear my life could have been very different if gins were a part of my life.

Gene said...

Good points, and no, I don't think you are aggravating things by bringing up alternative arguments. With all due respect to the 2nd Amendment, I've always thought a main premise of approving conceal and carry laws was that it would decrease other violent crime. I'm curious as to whether or not that is the case so far in the Twin Cities, Rye.

In order to allow the ownership of something dangerous, there should be some net personal or community benefit to its presence. Swimming pools allow people to derive pleasure and satisfaction through exercise, games, community. There are some clear benefits to pools (that being said, I will never own one b/c of the liability.) Conceal and carry may theoretically have a benefit by decreasing crime, but I have not seen any clear evidence that this is the case. And regarding the supposed benefit of "feeling safer" because someone is packing, well, I think that's a load of crap and a power trip. If you are that concerned about being attacked or robbed, you either need to move somewhere safer or you need to be medicated.

I'm not saying it should be illegal to own a gun. I just think we need to step away a little, look closer at the facts and consider ways to improve a flawed system.

Gene said...

Looks like Coovo and I had some similar thoughts. Sorry for the overdone and redundant redundancy.

Coovo said...

Gene, I've always said that whatever I can do, you can do better.

Except shoot the three.

Gene said...

And to the metal detector issue, I think they have great benefit in certain places, like airports. They are also a fun diversion if you are a 75 year old man living in a beachside community with nothing to do on a tuesday.

A metal detector in Kirkwood City Hall would likely have prevented zero deaths last thursday.

Ryan said...

First of all, I'd like to apologize to all of those people who have won medals made of metal. I did not mean to offend.

Geno, I'm curious why you think a metal detector wouldn't have helped in that situation. I don't know much of the details, so that's why I'm asking.

To follow up with our larger conversation though, I think any form of gun control needs to be at the "localest" level possible. What might be right for Kirkwood may not be right for Wentzville or even Webster, etc.

And ultimately, I do believe there is a lot of place for regulation in terms of buying guns, like with waiting times and a background check, etc, and for what's appropriate in public, but I don't believe any sort of regulation should outright prevent law abiding citizens from acquiring the means to protect themselves within their own homes within a reasonable amount of time (it should take 2 years of paperwork to buy a gun).

Essentially, any weapon a cop is permitted to carry, a citizen should be able to own.

Wash D.C. has such a strict gun ban that you can't even own a .22 locked up in a safe in your house. They have gotten away with this because certain federal courts have ruled that since D.C. is not a state, the 2nd amendment doesn't apply to them. Take a deep breath and understand the ramification of applying the bill of rights to states vs. individuals. I believe this case is coming to the supreme court in March.

ALso, in general, I think we put ourselves in a difficult spot when we try to tell people far from us how to live, how they should feel. I got served a nice piece of humble pie several years ago in STL when Proposition B was on the ballot. We were leaving some bar in the loop and this black man was debating people on the sidewalk. I must not have been drunk enough, so I listened to him and talked to him. I said that more guns in the streets would create more violence. He just looked me in the eyes and said, "Come live in my neighborhood for a week and then tell me you don't want a gun."

I'm sure that guy would have loved to move. I doubt that is an option in his life. Nor should that be the way we tell people to deal with things. We should be free to live wherever we are and protect ourselves reasonably.

For Geno it's a bat, for that guy it's a gun. For me, it's a robot who shoots killer bees out of his eyes.

As the old saying goes: When you want to criticize someone, first walk a mile in his shoes. That way, when you criticize him, you'll be a mile away, and you'll have his shoes.

Ryan said...

what a difference a word makes:

"(it should NOT take 2 years of paperwork to buy a gun.)"

Coovo said...

I don't want to step on Geno's toes (or whoever might be walking in his shoes) but from what I read the guy killed an officer who was outside standing watch before going into the meeting. If there had been a metal detector he probably would have just shot everyone working at it and gone on in. You could probably make the argument that it may have been different lives that were taken, but no one was going to get in his way.

I'll never be able to identify with living in a neighborhood like that but again, the only reason he needs a gun to live there is because others have guns. And guns begetting more guns just makes me uncomfortable.

Every since we started this conversation I can't stop thinking about Tank Johnson who while on probation for gun possession had his house raided and they found three handguns, a rifle and two assault weapons, in a open view. Plus 550 rounds of ammo. This was december of last year.

A soldier in Iraq wouldn't need this many guns. Johnson lived in Gurnee. He probably comes from a neighborhood like the man Ryan spoke to, but has long since left it. I'll never understand the glamor of guns or the attraction of different calibers or the different types of ammunition. There is a culture or status that has evolved and again, that makes me uncomfortable.

I should really get back to studying.

Marty said...

Wow...eighteen comments...nice work...