Steven G. Percifield--author

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Steven G. Percifield  Author and consultant
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A modest proposal for the reduction of unintended

firearm murders in the greater Chicago-land area, the

end of global warming and a reduction in the trade deficit

(requiring only modest assistance from the Obama administration)


It seems as if a week never goes by without the local headlines screaming some variation of the same tragic and disgusting theme: TODDLER SHOT IN HEAD IN DRIVE-BY SHOOTING; INNOCENT BY-STANDER HIT BY BULLET INTENDED FOR GANG MEMBER; FATHER OF THREE KILLED BY BULLET INTENDED FOR GANG MEMBER; ERRANT BULLET KILLS PREGNANT MOTHER; etc., etc., ad nauseum.

 Not a recent phenomena this sort of brutality—always gang-related—has continued, unabated, throughout my residence in this area which dates back to 1983; surprising by virtue of Chicago having (had) the strongest anti-private-gun-ownership laws in the U.S.

 The gangs’ very existences are dependent upon drugs, prostitution, pent up hostility of young men with nothing better to do, amoral upbringings, unemployment and the simple human need to belong to a group. In the vast majority of cases, drug turf is the root cause of the violence closely followed by claims to a “girl friend.” As is the case with virtually everything, when looking for the ultimate source of a problem, follow the money.

 But amongst this depressing news comes a glimmer of hope; The Supreme Court, in one of its more lucid moments, recently overturned Chicago’s anti-gun laws thus permitting law-abiding private citizens possessing a sound mind to also possess private hand-guns which should afford them some degree of protection. “Clearly a step in the correct direction for the rights and protection of the individual,” I proclaimed during a recent sitting with fellow convives at a local tavern.

 “Bull-shit,” I was told by one anti-gun friend. He argued (correctly) that private ownership of guns for protection of oneself would do nothing to ensure the safety of unintended victims. These unfortunates” he said, “were not involved in some sort of contest where parity of weaponry was a factor. Defend oneself? They never even knew they were in harm’s way. One instant they were strolling down the street or sitting on their front porch and the next instant they were wounded or dead as the result of violence they never anticipated in which they never participated.”

 “Ah-ha,” I proclaimed, “you are absolutely correct but further elaboration of my points are obviously required,” (for some reason I’ve never understood, beer always makes me talk that way). “The immediate root cause of the shootings of unintended victims,” I continued, “is not drugs, prostitution, unemployment, turf-wars, over-population of the ghettos, amorality on the parts of gang members or any some-such.”

 “Then what is it, your omnipotence?” the guy to my right asked cynically.

 “The immediate root cause of these unintended shootings is one thing and one thing only: piss-poor marksmanship. Which brings me,” I continued, “to my proposal: mandatory shooting range instruction for anyone convicted of any gang-related activity.”

 The beers just sat there; the guys just sat there, dumbfounded expressions upon their faces.

 Undeterred, I continued: “Think about it. No wonder they don’t hit what they’re shooting at. These guys don’t even hold the guns right; they hold their pistols sideways because that’s the way they came in the box!” No change in the dumbfounded expressions. “When an innocent father of three or a mother pushing a baby buggy up the sidewalk is killed, it is a true tragedy felt by all in the community. If a pimp or pusher gets whacked shooting it out with another pimp or pusher only those immediately connected to the whacked individual feels the pain.”

 Still no comment from my companions.

 “So here’re the advantages,” I continued, “to teaching these guys how to shoot accurately:

1.      an immediate reduction in un-intended victims

2.      an immediate reduction in violent gang members

3.      an immediate reduction is social welfare costs as many if not most of them are on some sort of government assistance

4.      an immediate reduction in the overall crime rate

5.      an immediate deduction in the number of unemployed as many or most don’t hold regular jobs


In fact,” I continued, “this program would even reduce unemployment and create new jobs. Shooting instructors will have to be accredited and hired, their ranks drawn from former police officers (who will no longer be needed). Indoor shooting ranges will have to be built ensuring employment for those in the trades. Records will have to be kept requiring clerical and data entry jobs. Computers will have to be sold to keep track. Guns and ammunition will be required helping to sustain our dwindling domestic arms and ammo manufacturing industries.


If ever there was a win-win situation, this is it! I’m outta’ here,” I proclaimed, draining my beer bottle. “I’m going home to write the President. If we can get twenty million dollars for this project, we can create 200 jobs easily! And if we expand this program nationally for a few hundred billion, we can create enough jobs to help end the recession even as we put an end to the tragedies of unintended shooting victims!


In fact,” I continued, another brain-storm materializing from the deepest recesses of my mind, “we can expand this program not only nationally but internationally! Provided with federal research funds, we can begin development of carbon-free gunpowder allowing anyone to shoot all they want without fear of adding additional CO2 to the atmosphere which would contribute to global warming! This will require a lot of research, construction of new manufacturing facilities, the whole shooting match (no pun intended). The armed world will have to come to US for “green” gunpowder helping to balance our trade deficit.”


I left. Unmoved beer bottles still sat in front of my unmoving companions who still wore dumbfounded expressions upon their unmoving faces.