America's deadly gun culture

On Dec. 10, The News & Advance reported that more than 1,000 people had filled Liberty High School’s auditorium to urge Bedford County supervisors to declare their county a Second Amendment Sanctuary county. They did. Fully 76 out of 95 Virginia counties have done so. This is a cultural movement that deserves to be respected, analyzed — and questioned.

On Dec. 11, The News & Advance informed us that an all-white jury had acquitted 17-year-old Austin Rozdilski of “murder, malicious wounding and firearm charges” in the death of 18-year-old Dre’yon Browley and the wounding of another teen, Justin Barnett. We had already learned that Rozdilski’s lawyer, Joseph Sanzone, had not denied the killing, but claimed that young Austin had fired in self-defense.

He had come “to buy a firearm.” The sale had gone wrong. Hence, the shooting.

Come to buy a firearm! Why were these three teens negotiating a gun purchase in the early darkness? The tragedy cries out.

Dre’yon is dead. Austin will carry the murder stigma — guilty or not — to his grave. Justin will never forget.

Clearly the 1,000 people at Liberty High School are concerned citizens and represent much of Virginia. And we all need to continue to wrestle with the questions this tragedy raises. Why could our present legal and law enforcement structures not prevent the devastation of these three potentially beautiful lives? Where is racism in all this? And why is a 17-year-old tried as an adult?

The very word “sanctuary” raises more questions. Is it wise that the religious notion of affording safety and help to the vulnerable is used to justify a gun culture that does not appear to be working?

Thanks to The News & Advance for keeping the discussion moving.

PETER KJESETH

Lynchburg

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