Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

US Must Curb Violence to Regain Civility and Strength

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

US Must Curb Violence to Regain Civility and Strength

Article excerpt

A FEW months ago my wife and I were renting a car at the Baltimore airport. We had an unusual amount of luggage and had reserved a full-size Chevrolet. The rental agency clerk said: "We've got a great offer; for another dollar a day you can have a Cadillac."

It sounded like a good deal, and I was about to take it when my wife drew me aside. "We don't want to do that," she said. "It's just too dangerous driving around Baltimore and Washington in a luxury car." At first I scoffed, but then, remembering the current number of carjackings, often with accompanying violence, I realized she might be right. We took the Chevrolet.

We are certainly not alone in our caution. Rent-a-wreck agencies are apparently doing a booming business renting to travelers who don't want to be seen in cars that might attract the attention of carjackers. The travelers are not paranoid. In Florida earlier this year, a German tourist just hours off the plane was murdered by thieves who wanted her car. In Maryland a woman was dragged to her death when carjackers drove off with her car, her baby still in it. In Los Angeles a pregnant woman was stabbed to death when a carjacker targeted her car. The problem is no longer simple car theft. It is the rising wave of murder that accompanies such thefts.

Much of the violence is indiscriminate. James Jordan, father of basketball star Michael Jordan, pulls his red Lexus off the road in North Carolina to take a nap. He is killed by two teenage robbers. Says a state investigator: It's the "kind of random violence that all the public is concerned about and is afraid of."

Much of the violence is being committed by increasingly younger delinquents. A Time magazine cover story on teenage gun-toters says some 100,000 students in America carry a gun to school. One student poll showed 15 percent of students in the sixth through 12th grades carrying a handgun in the past 30 days. …

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