Tragic signal for swift change


We fear it has begun again.

With the most recent rash of violence, the long hot summer of bloodshed may have sprung forward much too early. While all violent deaths are tragic, the loss of 12 year-old Quinshun Parks is doubly so.

Speaking to a local television station, Pine Bluff Police Department Lt. Bob Rawlinson perfectly circumscribed the event by noting the loss, not just for Parks’ family, but for the family of the alleged teenag shooter. From this needless, senseless, preventable incident, two families will have their futures extinguished. If news of Parks’ death doesn’t cause a great welling of nausea in the public gut, nothing can. Being a region where religious conviction is especially important, we often look for signs from God.

If this horrible moment of loss doesn’t sound a clarion for a fundamental shift in our community, then nothing else will. We have witnessed so much crime and violence in the city that we are largely inured of it.

One drug dealer kills another… it is so sickeningly common that it hardly evokes a response beyond the families immediately involved. This is different. Parks was a child. As such, he was in no way — by no absurdist stretch of the imagination — anything but a pure victim, a lamb to slaughter.

If you are looking for a call to action, they get no louder than this. A good place to start would be with the instrument of death itself: the gun. How exactly did the shooter come into possession of it?

One thing we can say for certain is that somewhere, at some point, an adult failed to heed either the law or their individual responsibility such that the gun found its lethal purpose. Knowing this, we should seek to establish who in the chain of possession fell short of their obligations… who allowed this child to get the gun… and hold them strongly accountable for the consequences.

This in no way stomps crassly across the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment offers no quarter against illegal or irresponsible ownership of guns. As such, we need to demonstrate that there will be profound, inescapable and swift consequences for irresponsible ownership or possession of guns. After all, they are a powerful tool with an onerous obligation attached to their keeping.

Anyone foolish, cavalier or indifferent enough to permit a child to gain unsupervised access to a gun should be held accountable.

Yes, this draws a hard line, but it is one of the rare instances when just such a limit must be established. Almost everyone in our community who has been murdered in recent years has met their end with a bullet. It is time we throw down the gauntlet. If you are legally allowed to own a gun and choose to do so, fine. Own as many as you care to, but be prepared for the fullness of the responsibility.

Likewise, if you possess guns outside of the law, you should also be steeled for the consequences — and those consequences should be dire. We need to safeguard our young people and treat them as the precious commodity that they are.

When an event such as just happened occurs, it signals our collective failure and our collective obligation to do better.