Wednesday, August 31, 2022

15-year-old Zacchaeus Johnson is charged in Juvenile Court with shooting death of another young teen. Yes, it is a gun problem.

by Rod Williams, Aug. 30, 2022- Metro Nashville police report that 15-year-old Zacchaeus Johnson is charged in Juvenile Court with criminal homicide for Sunday’s 5:50 p.m. fatal shooting of another young teen, Antonio Baker Jr., 16, in a parking lot in the 500 block of South 5th Street in the James Cayce public housing development. A drug-related robbery motive is under investigation.

Baker, of Dew Street, was transported to Vanderbilt Medical Center where he died. Johnson, of Summer Place, fled the scene but was later taken into custody in Clarksville, Tennessee. The investigation continues into others who were present at the time of the shooting.

The police do not speculate as to how a 15-year-old got access to a gun. It is so common that young thugs are armed that it is not noteworthy. It is not difficult for teens to acquire guns. So far this year, 912 guns have been stolen from vehicles in Nashville. Eighteen guns were stolen from cars and trucks last week.  Guns are sold and traded among young criminals. 

Responsible gun owners do not leave an unsecured gun in a vehicle and certainly not an unlocked vehicle. Unfortunately, there are a lot of irresponsible gun owners. Guns are expensive and why people would leave them unsecured in a vehicle, especially an unlocked vehicle I do not know. 

In my view, it is time to make it a crime to fail to properly secure a weapon. Many gun rights advocates will oppose such a suggestion.  When such is proposed, they will say that the reason weapons are left in vehicles is because there are so many places one can not take a gun, such as schools, and airports, and bars, and banks, and courts, and places of employment, that gun owners have no choice except to leave their guns in their car.  They may advocate that such restrictions be lifted and prohibited.  My view is that those are reasonable places to restrict guns or, in the case of employers it is a decision properly made by individual employers.  Also, I would doubt that many of those guns are stolen from the parking lots of airports or courthouses or some of the other locations mentioned.   Most likely they are stolen from cars in driveways or from cars parked on the street in front of the owner's home. 

Another response is that instead of restrictions on guns we should focus on arresting criminals as if insufficient policing is the problem.  One may disagree about the number of police we need and how policing should be focused but that is simply an evasion to avoid recognizing the problem of irresponsible gun owners being the suppliers of weapons to street criminals. 

Another response of opponents of any rules regulating the securing of weapons is to wax nostalgic. When they were in high school, they will tell you, they kept their hunting rifle in the locker at school or on a gun rack in their pickup truck parked at school and there was no problem. 

Opponents of rules mandating the proper securing of weapons may advocate we need to return prayer and bible reading to the classroom.  They may blame the rise in crime on the welfare state and out-of-wedlock births.  I may agree with some of their diagnosis of society's ills but that does not mean we should not deal with the real immediate problem of too many guns easily finding their way into the hands of criminals. Pining for "the good ole days" does not address a real problem we have today.  

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