Gun Violence in Pennsylvania worse than the Confederate Flag flying in South Carolina

There is a furious debate going on in South Carolina as I write this post.  Supporters of the almost 20,000 dead Confederate soldiers are trying to fight the reaction to the recent racially motivated murders of 9 people in Charleston.  The legislators are debating in a Statehouse that still hosts a black draped seat of one of their own.  State Senator Clementa Pinkney was assassinated by a racist supporter of the Confederate flag.  His murder led the Governor of South Carolina to order the flag be removed from the state house.  The protests raging in Columbia are bringing to the surface long festering tensions about race, states rights and slavery.

My Grandfather, Father, Mother and older brothers were born in South Carolina.  I have a large amount of family that still resides in this state.  I love the serenity of Columbia when I visit the Palmetto State.  Southern hospitality is not just a myth.  My cousins, aunts and uncles all possess friendly personalities that are part of the package.  My Father left South Carolina in the late 1950's in part because of the limited opportunities for African Americans at the time.  He remembered Colored Only drinking fountains and the lingering injustices of segregation.  I was born in Philadelphia and I fully embrace urban living.  I wouldn't mind moving back in my later years.  I don't share the pride in the Confederate side of the southern heritage but my ancestors fought and died there also.

One of the perils of living in urban areas across the country is the constant threat of gun violence.  Last night in Philadelphia two people were killed and four were wounded in a spate of shootings throughout the city.  One of the wounded was a six year old boy.  I can imagine his fear and trepidation upon hearing loud sounds in his immediate future.  The young man was probably out enjoying a sultry summer night when a shooter decided that his pleasant enjoyment would be interrupted.  Just last week a pregnant woman was shot in a supposed love triangle.  She lost her fetus and is recovering.  Philadelphia alone has seen over 1400 citizens lost to gunfire in the last ten years.  Chester, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Scranton and Reading can all produce the tales of woe that are being felt by the families of the recent victims.

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One body that I know won't support needed gun control measures is the Pennsylvania legislature.  Philadelphia elected officials have tried for many years to pass effective gun control legislation.  The NRA and pro gun lobby will not bend in spite of the blood being spilt on the streets of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  In one instance this summer, still in its early stages, ten people were shot at a block party by a young man who might have been bent on some type of revenge.  Regardless of his motivation people now have medical bills that they did not have before being unwillingly targeted by hot lead.  I would not have enough space in this article to mention the tears flowing in Baltimore and Chicago.  God, Allah, Yahweh, Jehovah, Buddah or some higher power please help us.

I don't know how the debate about removing the Confederate flag will end up.  The Senate had the two thirds majority needed to enact the removal.  The debate is now in the House.  As the nation fixes its eyes on the site of a recent massacre I feel the need to pause and reflect on the lives being lost or altered tragically by the continuing gun violence in my home state.  We have a new Mayor who will be elected in November.  Will the good feelings that are existing now be enough to decrease the number of shooters who feel that their power exists behind hot lead?  Only time will tell.  Until then, the Confederate flag debate is secondary to the carnage that continues in Pennsylvania and throughout the United States.

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