OPINION | Gunfire on the homefront


On Monday, I received an e-mail from the Minneapolis Police Department’s friendly crime prevention specialist for the 3rd Precinct. The message concerned the MPD conducting “a calibration test of ShotSpotter technology,” in both the Folwell neighborhood on the north side and in the Central neighborhood on the south side.

“Calibration tests are done periodically to increase the effectiveness of the gunfire detection system,” the message stated. “25-50 shots will be fired [Monday night] during the testing. The calibration requires officers to live-fire handguns in predetermined locations that will allow for maximum effectiveness of the system. A bullet trapping system is utilized that is designed to safely absorb bullets fired at a very close range. All firing will be done by our range officers in a very controlled manner, designed to assure the highest level of safety.”

This is life in the inner city. I didn’t hear any gunfire from our home in Powderhorn.

And I mention this apropos the date of this edition of the American Jewish World: Sept. 27. On this date one year ago, a terrible massacre took place at Accent Signage Systems in Minneapolis. A recently terminated employee, Andrew Engeldinger, went out to his car and returned with a Glock 19 9mm pistol. He proceeded to murder Reuven Rahamim, the Israeli-born company founder and CEO, and five others, including a UPS driver who happened to be at the business. Then he turned the gun on himself. This reportedly was the worst workplace shooting in Minnesota history.

Of course, the Accent Signage tragedy was eclipsed a little more than two months later, when the nation and the world was shocked by the mass killing at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. The Newtown shooter, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, first murdered his mother in their home, then drove to the school, where he killed 20 young children and six adult staff members, before taking his own life.

This week we have been following the al-Shabab terrorist attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya. As the Jewish World goes to press this week, the carnage at the mall has ended, but not before the terrorists killed 61 innocent people. The Nairobi terrorist outrage comes amid similar carnage in Iraq and Pakistan, bombings that took dozens of lives.

There certainly is a problem with diabolical terrorism in the Middle East and Asia, but the United States has seen the continual rattle of gunfire taking a heavy toll. How many Americans have been killed by guns since the Sandy Hook massacre of the innocents?

The answer might surprise you: 25,279.

That number, reported by Slate.com, uses the most recent Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates for deaths by guns in the U.S., as of Sept. 24. News reports indicate around 8,643 gun deaths since Newtown, but that figure does not include gun suicides, which comprise about 60 percent of all gun deaths in this country.

As anthropogenic climate change results in the melting of glaciers and the polar ice masses, endangering the future of our species on Earth, along with other species, humans are busy shooting themselves and others.

In Chicago last week, there were 23 shooting incidents in one evening. A person with a gun opened fire on a playground hoops game and shot 13 people, including a 3-year-old boy. Fortunately, in all of the gunfire, just one person was killed.

I don’t want to bum out the AJW readers; but we have a problem here. It is a problem that we must grapple with and fix.

Another e-mail arrived today, a statement from Accent Signage Systems. Here it is:

On September 27, 2012, many of our friends and co-workers tragically lost their lives. The loss has had an unimaginable impact on many families and has taken a tremendous toll on our company.

Our employees have shown incredible resolve this past year, which has allowed Accent to persevere under incredibly challenging circumstances. We also wish to thank our customers, vendors and the community for the outpouring of support we have received in the past year.

This Friday marks the one-year anniversary of the horrific events that forever changed our lives. Out of respect for our co-workers and the families of those who lost loved ones, we will be observing the solemn day privately. We would ask that you keep our fallen colleagues, their families, and our staff in your thoughts and prayers at this difficult time.

We continue to mourn the loss of those murdered at Accent Signage Systems, and in other senseless tragedies. And while it seems like the mass of people outraged by gun violence in America is no match for the political clout of the NRA, this likely will not always be so. The People Against Getting Shot will prevail.