The shootings plaguing Pittsfield suggest a significant gang presence, and have roots in the economic problems in the city. The solutions are complex and are rendered far more difficult by easy access to guns.
The early afternoon gunfire Thursday at a busy Pittsfield intersection was indeed reckless and dangerous, as Police Detective Timothy Koenig wrote in his report (Eagle, May 21). The response to such an incident, according to the mythology of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and the National Rifle Association (see Gail Collins' column on opposite page) is for armed civilians to fire back. A shoot-out at Pecks Road would likely have gone beyond reckless and dangerous to fatal for someone, perhaps an innocent bystander or a police officer.
Mr. Trump's groveling before the NRA Friday represents another flip-flop by the principle-free candidate. Nearly four years ago, when President Obama called for far tougher gun laws at a vigil for the schoolchildren massacred by a gunman in Newtown, Connecticut, businessman-TV celebrity Trump tweeted: "President Obama spoke for me and every American in his remarks in Newtown, Connecticut." Mr. Trump had it right then before he sold out in pursuit of votes.
The standing ovation for the nation's police officers that Mr. Trump requested and received at Friday's NRA gathering was shamefully hypocritical on the part of the candidate and those in attendance. The NRA and its supporters, by opposing new gun laws and weakening current ones, put police officers in jeopardy of injury of death every day. Standing ovations don't lessen their responsibility or their guilt.
To its credit, Massachusetts has tough gun laws, but the state is at the mercy of the lax gun laws of neighboring states and of inadequate federal laws. The answer is not weakening Massachusetts laws but toughening federal ones, a difficult task that would be rendered nearly impossible under a President Trump.
Lengthy jail sentences for those convicted of crimes will help address Pittsfield's crime problems to a degree, but there are always more trouble-makers coming along. If they weren't carrying guns their potential for trouble would be decreased dramatically. Other civilized nations don't have this problem, but they aren't afflicted with America's gun addiction, or politicians who fuel that addiction.