There Is No Socially Engineered Solution to Drive-by Killings

Photo credit: Richmond Times-Dispatch

by James A. Bacon

In a protest that will never make the national news, an estimated 75 people turned out for a weekend march in Richmond to denounce the latest killing of a child in a drive-by shooting. Fifteen-year-old Tynashia Humphrey was walking to the store from her grandmother’s home near the infamous Gilpin Court housing project when she was struck by a stray bullet. “Stop the killing! Save the children!” the marchers chanted.

“My baby had only been 15 for two weeks,” Karen Cheatham, the girl’s grandmother and guardian, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “She was walking to the store. She was out of my hands for two hours. She was supposed to return back to me at 9 o’clock to get ready for school…. Hold on to your babies and hold on to them tight because tomorrow is not promised to none of us.”

The march, I fear, is totally in vain. I see no sign that city politicians, General Assembly legislators, or the media have any inkling of why killings have spiked in the past two years, much less what to do about them. As a society, we are flailing ineffectually as we continue to apply the same bromides that never contained much truth to begin with.

One of the politicians to attend the rally was Delegate Dolores McQuinn, D-Richmond. Her words are worth quoting at length because they mix the failed conventional wisdom with flashes of insight.

From the RTD:

“Gun violence has been an albatross around our necks in the Black community for years,” McQuinn told onlookers. “How many of us have been here before. Raise your hand — it should be most of us under a certain age.”

“Many of us have walked year after year after year, trying to address the issue of gun violence,” she added. “And we’re still here.”

McQuinn said prayers can help — “I’ve seen it happen in my own life” — but real change won’t occur “without the work.”

“We might as well be praying to the roof of the John Marshall Courts Building,” she said. “So we’ve got to get to work.”

Raising her voice, McQuinn said recreational centers must be built for the community, more swimming centers need to be created, and schools should be kept open after school — “where kids can go and be involved in something” instead of the streets.

“An idle mind is still a devil’s workshop,” she said. “Our children are dealing with idle minds and idle time, and the moral compass that we’re dealing with is off-kilter. And this is what it is all about. It’s a moral issue.”

“That I can look at you and not think enough of you to say, I’m going to keep my gun in my pocket, I’m going to keep it in my car. But just because there’s a conflict, I’m going to put a bullet in your head or your heart. Something is wrong with that.”

Borrowing the phrase, “Everything starts at home,” McQuinn told the crowd that she was “particularly talking to the women.”

“We have got to start training our children when they come out of the womb — and while they’re in the womb,” she said. “We’ve got to make sure we’re providing them the nutrition and all they need while we’re pregnant. And when they come out there, we’ve got to be training them. We’ve got to teach them how to love themselves, and if you love yourself, you can love one another. This is nothing new.”

By way of preface, I’ll credit McQuinn for getting closer to the root problem than Virginia’s academic and journalistic punditocracy. At least she didn’t attribute the murders to COVID, budget cuts, or “systemic racism.” Rather than blame others, she called for the African-American community to take charge of the problem.

By referring to “gun violence” McQuinn implied that guns are part of the issue.

An easy retort would be to say, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” But that would be simplistic. There is no such thing as a “drive by knifing” or a “drive-by bludgeoning.” Tynashia Humphrey would be alive today if it weren’t for guns. Let us be honest and admit that guns are part of the problem.

The question is what to do about them. In a country awash in firearms — and an open border where Mexican cartels could bring them in illegally even if the U.S. banned them outright — any bad guy who wants a gun can get one. Tighter gun laws would not have saved young Ms. Humphrey. Something more is needed.

McQuinn  belongs to the idle-minds-are-the-devil’s-workshop school of thought. Keep the kids busy with wholesome pursuits and they’ll stay out of trouble. Therefore, she advocated more social spending — more recreational centers, more swimming pools, and more after-school programs.

The solution seems spectacularly irrelevant to what goes on today. Every kid has a cell phone. Every kid is online. Much of the violence that occurs today arises from altercations that begin in social media — while the kids are in school!

We’re talking about feral children who have never been taught how to behave in a civilized manner, from single-family homes in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty. McQuinn brushed up against the underlying problem when she said that kids’ “moral compass” is off-kilter. And she got close to addressing root causes when she said, “We have got to start training our children when they come out of the womb.”

But then she went astray. “We’ve got to teach them how to love themselves,” she said. “If you love yourself, you can love one another.”

No, love and self esteem are not what’s missing. We need to teach children how to resolve conflicts. We need to teach them courtesy and respect for others. We need to teach them impulse control. We need to teach them to take command of their emotions.

Who will teach them these things? Is this something that schools can do? Is this something that the collective — the village — can do? Or is it something that families do? That parents do? If one or more of the parents are absent or negligent in instilling these values, what happens?

There will be no socially engineered “solution” to indiscriminate drive-by shootings. We need a moral reformation. Parents and family must assume responsibility for instilling values in their children. And individuals must assume responsibility for their actions. Politicians, academics, and bureaucrats cannot raise children from afar. As McQuinn says, someone must “put in the work,” child by child.

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48 responses to “There Is No Socially Engineered Solution to Drive-by Killings”

  1. Crosswalks to Nowhere Avatar
    Crosswalks to Nowhere

    Time to get rid of the machines of death and ban cars now. It’s time we attack the source of 40,000 deaths a year, and lifelong injuries.

    1. Eric the half a troll Avatar
      Eric the half a troll

      Are you advocating we treat guns the way we treat automobiles? Sounds like a grand idea!!

      1. Make all guns electric by 2035! Hey, it worked for chairs. Can we all have MAGE caps with little lightning bolts? Gun charging stations on every corner? California putting out public service announcements “To avoid blackouts due to the heat wave don’t charge your guns between 4pm and 9pm”.
        Sounds like a grand idea!!

        1. Matt Adams Avatar

          A railgun in every house by 2035! I like it.

          1. And lasers too, they’ll be better than light sabers.

  2. Ronnie Chappell Avatar
    Ronnie Chappell

    Time to bring back aggressive policing in high crime neighborhoods including stop and search for unlicensed firearms.

    1. All firearms are unlicensed in Virginia.

    2. We don’t need no steenkin’ 4th amendment requirement for probable cause for search and seizure. It’s just a coincidence that we rebelled against the Brits in part due to their unwarranted search and seizure on the streets.

  3. James McCarthy Avatar
    James McCarthy

    “We’re talking about feral children from single-family homes in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty who have never been taught how to behave in a civilized manner.” JAB, are you certain you wish to stand by this broad-brush characterization? How does this apply to the child victim of a driveby?

    1. The remark doesn’t apply to the girl but to her killer(s).

      1. James McCarthy Avatar
        James McCarthy

        When were the killers identified as emerging from a feral origin? Were children? Untaught? It is indeed a remark and perhaps an errant one unconnected to the tragedy. Sounds like your fingers did the walking on the keyboard without guidance from above.

  4. James McCarthy Avatar
    James McCarthy

    As autos became engines of fatal injuries and property damage, mandatory liability insurance was required. Similar damage from firearms can, in part, be offset by firearm liability insurance.

    1. False comparison. Auto incidents are primarily accidents and are spread evenly across the driving population. Gun incidents are concentrated in a small minority of abusive persons who, for the most part, are already breaking the law by possessing a gun. They value insurance no more than they value the life they take. The left tries to justify penalizing the 99.9x% of gun owners who will never commit a crime by conflating them with the tiny few who do commit crimes. The argument is no more valid than arguments that all Jews…, or all blacks…, or all gays…, etc. are guilty of something. If you have to punish the innocent to solve your problem, you need to rethink the problem.

      1. James McCarthy Avatar
        James McCarthy

        Mandatory insurance is not punishment only a common recognition that some products available in society may be dangerous. In similar fashion safety requirements and devices are necessary to protect consumers and bystanders, e.g., seat belts. The costs of safety are spread across all. As experience dictates, not all injuries attributed to firearms are criminal. Some are accidental.

        1. Oh goody, it’s another Jim McCarthy silly walk. Limit constitutional rights by requiring buying liability insurance to exercise them.

          Next because some people say hurtful things it will be liability insurance requirements to speak, or receive due process, or avoid slavery or practice a religion.

          What a great idea! Way to go Jim, walk this way, silly, sillier, silliest.

          1. James McCarthy Avatar
            James McCarthy

            As your usual, no substance only sound and fury. Firearm liability insurance is by definition not a limit on constitutional rights. If you read Scalia’s decision in Heller, he acknowledged limitations were acceptable.

          2. Goody, another silly walk, trying to misconstrue Scalia and Heller to justify requiring purchase of liability insurance to exercise an individual constitutional right that Scalia and Heller upheld.

            Some limitations were recognized, not all, and not limitations that require buying insurance to exercise a constitutional right. The constitution itself is the insurance that ensures all rights.

            And it’s a twofer, your mis definition of definitions qualifies as another silly walk.

            Keep up the good work Jim, your embrace of silly walks is heart warming and an example to us all that foolishness can be both entertaining and successful.

            ps: No fury, just mirth and glee at your silly walks. Thank you so much.

          3. James McCarthy Avatar
            James McCarthy

            You did suggest teaching kids to read. Try it, you may like it. One cannot exercise the right to purchase a firearm if one is not of age. In Heller, Scalia pointedly acknowledged restrictions on ownership could be levied.

          4. What a hoot, thanks for doubling down. You make my day.

            Trying to conflate a reasonable limitation, like age, with a requirement to buy insurance to exercise a constitutional right is a hoot.

            Tell us please, how much insurance should women be required to buy to exercise the right to vote? How much higher should the liability premium be for those women who voted for Biden, or was the liability the same for voting for either major party candidate? Would a woman be due a credit for voting 3rd party?

            That is silly walk three, or is it four, for the day. You are on a roll, if that can be applied to a silly walk. Keep up the good work.

          5. James McCarthy Avatar
            James McCarthy

            Perhaps you can explain the reasonableness of precluding felons from voting or serving on a jury; or the requirement for women to undergo an ultrasound; or for same sex couples to marry; or for limiting the voting age to 18; or for religious schools ineligible for public tuition grants; or prohibition of churches preaching politics.

          6. Trying to change the subject will get you nowhere. You’re far better off sticking to something you do well, Jim McCarthy’s silly walks.

          7. In Heller, Scalia pointedly acknowledged restrictions on ownership could be levied.

            Please note that in the Bruen clarification of Heller that struck down New York’s unconstitutional restrictions on concealed carry the Court held that firearms restrictions must be consistent with historical firearms laws in our country.

            Requiring liability insurance is not part of our historical firearms laws therefore it is not a permitted restriction. That is in addition to the other obvious constitutional flaws of your silly proposal.

          8. By whose definition is “Firearm liability insurance … not a limit on constitutional rights”.
            Please cite.

          9. By definition? What part of the definitions of “firearm”, “liability”, “insurance”, or any combination of those words, inherently means that mandatory firearm liability insurance is not a limit on constitutional rights?

        2. I can’t comment in depth until I understand more about your scheme. Since firearm ownership is constitutionally protected, your plan could not deny the right to anyone who could not afford the insurance, or even just chose not to buy it. Would you offer subsidies to pay for it, or just make it a crime without penalty?

    2. William Respess Avatar
      William Respess

      I am intrigued by JM’s suggestion about firearm liability insurance. Whatever that is, it is not “liability” insurance, at least insofar as that term is used for automobile liability. Auto liability insurance defends you if you accidentally cause damage with your auto. It protects you from devastating losses and provides a source of compensation for damages caused to the person and property hit by the car. It also eliminates in most cases the need to sue to obtain compensation, thus reducing the burden on our court system. I have no proof of it but the availability of liability insurance probably has a negative effect on driving habits. If you drive, would you drive more carefully if uninsured?

      True firearm liability insurance would presumably financially protect a gun owner who accidentally caused an injury to another person. It would not protect a gun owner who deliberately shot someone if the analogy to auto liability is carried to its logical extent. There is also the question of who would provide the insurance. I find it difficult to imagine that a rregular insurance company would provide such insurance. Would the state, therefore, have to create the insurance? I encourage JM to more fully explain his insurance idea if he wants it to gain any traction or was it intended just to spark some snarky retorts?

  5. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
    James Wyatt Whitehead

    The grandmother is right. “Hold on to your babies, hold on to them tight…” Do that while you pack the moving van. There are many safe communities in Virginia. Move to one. Now. I recommend Chatham, VA. Nice and quiet and still safe.

  6. There is no such thing as a “drive by knifing””= you are wrong… see the machete attack in NYC.

    One question that was not addressed: How many witnesses came forward?

    1. Or the murder of the reporter in Nevada.

    2. I have witnessed a drive-by bludgeoning, although they appear to be far less frequent than drive-by shootings…

  7. walter smith Avatar
    walter smith

    The solution nobody wants to say. Disapprove of illegitimacy. Quit paying for babies. Encourage a responsible family unit to have babies. The boys need to have moral male authority figures…
    The answer is obvious. Doing it requires courage. Sadly lacking…

    1. James McCarthy Avatar
      James McCarthy

      VA sponsored sterilization and eugenics not so very long ago. How disapproving does you wish public policy to be? Young girls also should have model figures. Abortion has been one solution to avoid paying for babies.

      1. walter smith Avatar
        walter smith

        So murder is OK if efficient? Isn’t that eugenics?
        Young girls would have model figures in a loving mother and father. The boys need to learn to live under authority. Most of the crime is young men. Most is from single parent family situations. Since the black percentage is higher than the white, the black crime rate is higher. Since the black crimes occur in predominately black neighborhoods, blacks suffer disproportionately from the crimes. But the societal breakdown occurs in all races with this illegitimacy. That’s not mean. That’s a fact.
        I also think no fault divorce was a societal mistake.

      2. Abortion = eugenics
        Just ask Sanger.

  8. How about teaching all kids to read? That gives them the tool to learn a marketable skill instead of hanging out making a marginal living peddling drugs and committing larceny. You don’t have to be able to read to pull a trigger, but you do need to read to make an honest living and have a decent life.

    1. James McCarthy Avatar
      James McCarthy

      So, why learn to read when money can be made selling drugs? Do y’all mean forcing all kids to read? Guaranteeing them an honest living and a decent life? The article mentions no perpetrator is a youth. Pure babble!!!

      1. Oh, oh, thank you Jim, it’s another Jim McCarthy silly walk. You are so good at them, please do more for our entertainment. Silly walk, silly walk.

      2. So, why learn to read when money can be made selling drugs?

        Street level dealers make a marginal living at best, and it involves them with the cops, jail and other criminal and creepy folks.

        Guaranteeing them an honest living and a decent life?

        There are no guarantees for any of us, but learning to read improves the opportunities immensely.

        The article mentions no perpetrator is a youth.

        People don’t unlearn how to read. We teach them how to not read at a young age. When they grow up they are harder to reach and teaching them how to read is even harder. Gotta start ’em reading young to be successful.

        Pure babble!!! Ah, finally something you know something about, and the appropriate description of your comment. Congrats on your self awareness.

    1. Which Democratic convention is that photo from?

    2. Those are some fly sheets on the horses. Are the riders unicorn wannabes?

        1. All we’ve really done is to improve the chariots that we drive by in.

          1. And the weapons.

    3. 1870 – whites on horses.
      2022 – blacks in SUVs.
      The victims are still black; the shooters are still democrats.

    4. 1870 – whites on horses.
      2022 – blacks in SUVs.
      The victims are still black; the shooters are still democrats.

  9. James Kiser Avatar
    James Kiser

    Disagree with so called drive by knife attacks. Random attacks by knives are rapidly increasing and have been over the last few years. And with multiple victims. See the Canadian incident as an example.

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