Three dead. Many maimed, some critically. One shootout that left three parked cars riddled with bullet holes, a street littered with shell casings, and a living room wall and television set pierced by a stray round that came to rest two feet from a baby carriage where an infant was sleeping.
This is not the toll on Boylston Street and in Watertown in the aftermath of the Marathon bombings. It’s the damage sustained in lower-profile neighborhoods of Boston in April, no crueler a month than most for residents who cower far more regularly at the sounds of violence than they do in Watertown and the Back Bay.
We are very particular in this country about the kind of violence that mobilizes us to talk — if not act — about public safety and gun control.
No one set up a command center to brief the press after a radio call of shots fired at Archdale Road in Roslindale at 8:13 p.m. on April 2 despite the barrage of bullets. No national camera crews filmed the shattered television set or interviewed the foster mother about the trauma of a bullet landing so close to the sleeping baby in her care despite the inherent drama and the frequency of shootings in the neighborhood, a fatal one only last Christmas.
The mayor, for once, stayed home.
No talking heads called for an investigation into the source of the lethal weaponry found on April 6 when Boston Housing Authority personnel discovered an unattended child and a cache of loaded firearms in a South End apartment they had been scheduled to inspect for bed bugs. In addition to two guns under a mattress, Boston police reported recovering “a sentry safe under the bed containing several other firearms and 300 rounds of ammunition. A total of five firearms, two with defaced serial numbers and one large capacity firearm.”
But where, we must know, did the Tsarnaev brothers buy those pressure cookers?
We are very particular in this country about the kind of violence that mobilizes us to talk — if not act — about public safety and gun control. The slaughter of little children in a Connecticut elementary school. The carnage in a Colorado movie theater. An assassination attempt at a Tuscon shopping mall. An act of terror at the Boston Marathon.
The more insidious and persistent violence, that spawned by gangs and drugs and poverty and despair, barely registers on the consciousness of those with the good fortune to live outside the battle zone. A 47-page report commissioned by Gov. Deval Patrick on “Urban Violence in the Commonwealth” has been gathering dust since it was issued in 2008. The “prevention, intervention and rehabilitation” programs it prescribes cost money and Patrick has not spent much capital making this a priority on Beacon Hill.
The more insidious and persistent violence, that spawned by gangs and drugs and poverty and despair, barely registers on the consciousness of those with the good fortune to live outside the battle zone.
No public memorials will mark the deaths of a 25-year-old man on April 1 from gunshot wounds sustained the night before on Minden Street in Jamaica Plain or the shooting death of another on Dudley Street in Roxbury on April 17 or the gunshot death of yet a third in a car on Copeland Street in Roxbury on April 20.
Many of these April homicides, and more recent gunshot injuries to three men in Dorchester on April 26 and to two more in the same neighborhood on April 28, merited a brief mention on neighborhood news sites or Universal Hub or The Dorchester Reporter or even The Boston Globe and The Boston Herald. But they provoked no public alarm. They barely registered.
Since January, nine people have been killed and more than 50 maimed by gunfire in this city.
It does not diminish the suffering of any of the survivors of the Boston Marathon bombings or the three victims at the finish line or the MIT police officer in Cambridge to note that they were not the only souls to die violently on Boston’s streets in April.
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- Approaching Gun Violence As A Public Health Problem