Shots Fired in Amarillo, Texas Wal-Mart, One Dead

black Image of scales on white background with the words, "calibrate the scales" overlaid. As with any set of scales, the scales of justice must, from time to time, be recalibrated. Total balance is never achieved, but all in the criminal justice and legal systems must strive for it as much as possible.

In the wake of the terrible mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, another gunman in Amarillo, Texas took hostages inside a Wal-mart Supercenter store on Tuesday, June 14, 2016. Normally, a situation such as started around 11am in Amarillo would be national news in minutes. But this has been a busy month for gun violence in America and there is only so much that can be govered in five-minute sound bites. What happened in Amarillo? What is happening in the country? And more importantly, what can be done about it?

What Happened in the Amarillo Wal-Mart Tuesday June 14, 2016?

According to authorities, the gunman was identified as Mohammad Moghaddam, a disgruntled 54-year-old employee of the store. At this point, the motive appears to have to do with an anticipated promotion that did not take place. So Moghaddam entered the store offices and fired a single shot. That shot sent employees scrambling calling out, “Active Shooter. Code 4” according to sources. As employees and customers raced for the exits, the gunman held the store manager and another employee hostage in the back office of the store.

Polce were notified and dispatched to the store, located at 4215 Canyon Drive off I-27 in Amarillo. Response was rapid and heavy, with not only the Amarillo Police Department and SWAT teams responding to the crisis, but also the Amarillo Fire Department, Texas Department of Public Safety, and Randall County Sheriff’s Office. Contact was made with the suspect, Mohammad Moghaddam. At 12:22PM, just 76-minutes after the first shot was fired, mroe shots rang out and the gunman was dead. His body was removed to Lubbock, Texas where an autopsy will be completed and the two officers involved were placed on administrative leave pending the results of a standard investigation.

Read more about the Amarillo Wal-Mart Shooting here.

What is Happening in the United States with the Sudden Large-Scale Gun Violence?

This is going to sound terrible, but this is nothing new. Sadly, from time to time in America, gun violence rates escallate. As read in the 

Still, is this anything all that new?

If we look into the history of America, there have always been periods when violence reigned. For instance, the 1970s was a period of remarkable violence, with serial killings making news regularly. Yet in time, such sensational events declined. During Alcohol Prohibiition as well, gun violence was a serious problem in many American cities. Further back, we have the Wild West…so-called because of the rampant gun violence.

What is REALLY Happening with all the Sudden Gun Violence in America?

According to the conspiracy theorists, the sudden gun violence is a ploy by the Federal Government to get further gun control legislation enacted. Perhaps. But that is the same as saying that the President and Congress are causing it. Hmmm. That’s a stretch. According to the religionists, it is because the end of the world is close. But then, it has been the end of the world for a century. According to Democrats, it’s the Republicans. According to the Republicans, its the Liberals. According to Donald Trump, it’s the Muslims. According to _________ (fill in the blank).

Is it possible that this is just part of a cycle our nation must endure? Why?

We must remember that the United States IS unique in the world. Yes, we are unique because of gun violence. But we are also unique in that we bring people from all corners of the world together in our cities. This causes tension not seen on a scale not seen in other parts of the world. In addition, we have more racial tension than any other place on earth. This causes violence. And we have the Drug War. Remember what happened with the last experiment into substance prohibition in the 1930s?

What Can be Done about the Gun Violence in America?

The shooting at the Amarillo Wal-Mart, the gay club in Orlando, and scores of others around the nation are but symptoms. Of what? Sickness? Decay? Weakness? Guns?

None of the above.

This will sound strange, but the reality is that the gun violence is a symptom that the country is functioning as it was designed. How so?

The United States’ Constitution calls for a very tightly controlled Federal government. The purpose is to limit the powers of the government and thereby provide greater liberty to all. Thus, the regulation of values is left to individuals. The government, nor society on any level can legislate values.

Check out statistics for gun violence in the last 72 Hours

Thus, we have 300+ million people, each with their own individual values living in close proximity to one another. There is bound to be conflict. If it is not settled with a gun, it will be settled with something else, be it a knife, a rock, or bare hands. This is a major difference between America and any other nation. Could this be the reason for all the gun violence and if so, will banning guns be the solution?

The Constitution and the Banning of Guns

Every time we have a shooting that makes national news, there is a call by some for further gun control. Yet, even with more than 300 gun control laws on the books in the United States alone, shootings continue. Would banning guns work? COULD the nation ban guns legally, given the Second Amendment?

Three things play a conflicting role here and ultimately, it will be up to the people collectively to decide.

  1. The 2nd Amendment – Clearly defends the right of Americans to possess weapons.
  2. Article V of the Constitiution – Clearly defends the right of Americans to alter the Constitution

So between these two elements of the United States Constitution lay a conflict. How can the conflict be resolved?

When a person decides to use a gun to settle some slight, real or perceived, clearly a disconnect exists. The disconnect is between the values of the individual and the values of society.

“A child in First Grade gets angry with his teacher. He goes home and gets a bat. Returning to the school, the child beats the teacher to death. Bad bat? No, clearly there was a flaw with the child. That child later grew up to become a major bootlegger in Kentucky during Prohibition. That child was my grandfather”. – C. J. Oakes

Society says it is wrong to kill, yet there are many individuals who would disagree. In America, hatred is fostered daily by the leadership. We watch as politicians hatefully seek to destroy those on the opposing side. When we have an issue with another nation, we go to war. We applaud violence in movies. Yet, we say it is wrong to settle disagreements by killing…at least with a gun.

What Does the Constitution say About Values?

The Preamble of the United States Constitution brings up principles which play a role in this discussion. It states,

“We the People of the United States,

> in Order to form a more perfect Union,

> establish Justice,

> insure domestic Tranquility,

> provide for the common defence,

> promote the general Welfare, and

> secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,

do ordain and establish this Constitution.” – United States Constitution Preamble

Notice that in this there are five principles at play. The purpose of the document is to ensure that the nation would provide these six things to the people: Justice, peace at home, defense, general welfare, and liberty. Thus, whatever we do, we must find a way to settle the problem of gun violence in accordance with these principles.

These are the values of the nation, but not all adhere to these values. It is my belief that our leaders are failing to live by and promote these values; that this is the reason we see from time to time increased gun violence. NHow so?

Establishing Justice?

The simple fact is that justice is denied to many in our nation. The Drug War is causing many to grow up without fathers. There exists an “us versus them” relationship between law enforcement and the people. Political corruption is at an all-time high. And anyone can be charged at any time with a crime. Defending against that crime costs so that those who cannot afford the best attorney pay with their time. Justice is sold in America. And denying justice always leads to a fight. Every revolution in history attests to that.

The shooting in Amarillo, Texas, the shooting in Orlando, Florida are merely instance wherein people felt wronged and their personal values permitted them to handle the situation with a gun. When justice is bought and sold, there really is little other recourse. Little wonder such things take place from time to time. It is to be expected. During periods when the justice system and leadership fail the people such violence escallates. Then the leadership appears to handle the matter and for a time, all is quiet again.

Until the next time.

CJOakes
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