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Santa Monica’s Night of the Gun:

The inclination is to look for a rational line running through the killing of 15 year-old Eduardo “Eddie” Lopez. An explanation. A sequence of events we might understand. A reason. There may not be one. Lopez was fatally shot on Pico Boulevard at 26th Street on the night of February 28. Santa Monica police say the gunman shouted the name of a Latino gang and then fired several times at Lopez and two companions. At first we’re tempted to look at gangs and the pathology of gang “activity” as it’s called. It all seems tragically confounding, but I really don’t think there’s confusion about gangs. I think we understand them perfectly. I think we understand why young people involve themselves in a culture of posturing and death that has an allure reaching deep inside their aches and needs for something to belong to and believe in.So then there’s violence, and whether violence itself is has become some kind of ultimate narcotic. We wouldn’t wish an addiction like that on any young person, yet we live in a metropolis that exports simulated violence all over the world by means of a medium very broadly defined as “entertainment.” But if we agree that our President’s frequent use of the word “freedom” includes the implication that our culture, pop or otherwise, is not repressively edited or restrained… then we find ourselves yielding to a definition of entertainment that includes healthy servings of violence and love of guns. So that moves us on to an of examination of the cruelest aspects of human nature and during that we note that mass killings in places like Rwanda are often brutally facilitated with cheap machetes, not guns. Okay, so now you’re prohibited from laying-off all random acts of violence on the proliferation of guns, but…Let’s rewind. If we were to enumerate all the elements that jell into U.S. gang violence, what would be the one component that unquestionably provides the portability, accuracy, and means to effectively act on violent impulses regardless of their root causes? I’ll allow you all kinds of leeway on a sophisticated social stimulus-response paradigm for one young person wanting to kill another young person on any given evening. But after all that we have to recognize that the means, the tool, was a gun. It’s naïve to think that legislation or enforcement could ever guarantee that the gun that killed Eddie Lopez would have stayed out of circulation, allowing him to continue on with his studies and his love of sports at Santa Monica High. But it is of the utmost importance to realize that the very same weapon that took away a young man’s life may be used for that same purpose again. Which is why I can’t stomach any argument from the NRA that America’s access to guns needs to be kept fluid and wide open. Or that there is some kind of moral obligation that American law makes guns as easy to obtain as a cheeseburger. But as I said, to reach for a line running through everything leading to the moment Eddie Lopez lost his life may only leave us convinced that no one line exists. That’s why I’m so fixed on what is present at the scene when… a mentally unstable spouse kills the family then commits suicide. Or a depressed employee commits multiple homicides at a place of work. Or children kill children. There’s always that murky realm that can be various parts mental health, emotion, social inequity, alienation, and despair. And then there’s always a gun. This Week’s “Know Your News” Quiz1) BlackBerry devices will keep working thanks to (a) $612.5 million patent settlement. (b) the new JuiceBerry battery. (c) new Choo-Choo Cherry software.2) LAPD Chief Bratton wants to install (a) video cameras in police cars. (b) Softsoap body wash in locker rooms. (c) his cousin as “Duke of Police.”3) Now Wal Mart stores will stock the (a) “morning-after” birth control pill. (b) “fight-after” dinner with in-laws pill. (c) “after Botox” electric lip stimulator. Answer Key1) (a) “Is it okay if we pay with berries?”2) (a) “Hello, “American Idol: COPS Edition.”3) (a) “Hey Mom, while you’re at Wal Mart…”

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