Meleia Willis-Starbuck, Wayne Drummond Jr., Maceo Smith, a student from Berkeley Technology Academy-- all victims of recent Berkeley shootings. And the background story in each case is strikingly similar.
The archetypical plotline usually includes the following sequence of events: a tension-ridden verbal dispute between two angry young men occurs, the argument turns violent, one of the parties happens to carry a gun and unsurprisingly, the other party sustains gunshot wounds-resulting in death, most of the time. If the gun had not been present, would the outcome be any different?
Considering restrictions on handgun possession is the first step in decreasing these fatal spur-of-the-moment crimes. These aren't premeditated killings; lives are lost only because a deadly weapon is handy.
The laws of an individual city may curb street shootings, but spillover crimes from other areas are inevitable. With Berkeley nestled between homicide hot spots Oakland and Richmond, inter-city cooperation is required to ensure regional protection. Dedicated participation of the three in the East Bay Public Safety Corridor Partnership is a start.
And with too many factors fueling the anger behind these rash acts, it is more effective to target the manifestations of this anger. Though the Second Amendment should be upheld, there's a difference between owning rifles for sport and owning handguns for breeding violence.
This issue is, in fact, currently before the Supreme Court, as the justices are to rule if the District of Columbia's private handgun ban is constitutional. The homicide rate in D.C. has oscillated since the ban but would almost likely have been higher without the ban, and we can only hope the Court favors regulation.
Enforcing stricter gun control is not necessarily the catchall solution to stopping homicides, but such laws must have some effect and should not be overlooked.