What Does the Town of Ferguson See in the Mirror?

Based on the stories that the media and civil-rights leaders blow up, guns seem to naturally zero in on all the decent, respectful, and law-abiding teens in rough neighborhoods. Strangely, that has never been the case among the young people I know who live in an incredibly dangerous town. Every kid I know personally, or that I have a close connection to, who has been shot has always been involved in something criminal or dangerous -- period. 

None of the kids I know about were armed at the time of their shootings. I do not believe they deserved to be shot for what they were doing, but rational people accept that crime and counterproductive choices have everything to do with these kids’ bullet holes. Unfortunately, many of the boys merely amp up their commitment to self-destructive behavior after being shot. Their criminal scars are trophies they can brag about. 

Let’s just be blunt. The kids who avoid those bad choices rarely ever end up shot. Maybe that should be the spirited song and dance the media and civil-rights charlatans sing. But alas, white liberals could never afford to let that happen.  

“Good Kids” Get Shot by Acting Like Hoodlums

One of the kids I admire -- perhaps more than any of the thousands of teens I have worked with across the country -- was shot four times in a backstreet weed deal. What he has done since his shooting helps to demonstrate why I have always thought highly of him.

At 19 years old, he thought he could hustle up money in this depressed area with few jobs, but he simply ended up getting robbed. When he refused to give up his stuff without a fight, one of the robbers opened fire. My wrestler was hit four times by 9mm hollow-point bullets. Two of the rounds struck him in the chest as he turned to run for his life. One of those bullets remains buried just below his clavicle. 

Before the shooting, my wrestler earned a stellar reputation for being a good student, a leader, and a respectful young man. Any one of his teachers would vouch to that. Everyone who knows him was disheartened and disappointed to learn about the details of what led to his shooting. More than anything, however, we were all just thankful that he survived his stupid decision. 

When I spoke to him a few days after the shooting, I told him what is obvious -- crime leads to death or prison. That’s it. Then he described to me how he realized that as he was lying on the ground, bleeding and desperately praying for police to arrive. He said that he just kept praying that God would let him live. He also prayed for his mom and dad; he did not want them to have to learn what happened. He was ashamed of how his actions were going to affect them when they received the news. 

Only brainwashed captives and pseudo-civil-rights leaders would pretend not to see that this young man would not have been shot had he not committed a crime himself. While his actions did not match the respectful and decent person that I know, I realize simple crimes frequently lead to death. The sure way he could have avoided being shot that evening was not to sell weed. 

Today, a year later, the young man is pursuing his impressive goal of becoming a veterinarian. He also continues to accomplish another goal of playing college football. Additionally, he speaks at schools to younger children about the lessons he learned from surviving his idiotic decision. 

Two Kids From Clark Street: Guess Which One Survives

Another wrestler of mine grew up on Clark Street, notorious for violence and crime. In fact, his mother and little brother still live there. 

Before entering high school, this young man struggled with the direction he wanted to go. Ultimately, he decided that he did not want to go the meaningless direction that many of his friends chose. After his sophomore year, he moved in with his paternal grandmother, although he has no relationship with his dad. His grandmother lives in a safer area with a better school. 

This young man has worked hard to avoid the pitfalls of the streets. With help from his grandmother and several other families who invested in his life, he graduated this summer. While he was not always as focused in the classroom as he was this past year, he never caused problems in school or in the community. And he definitely has no run-ins with the law. Next week, he will head half way across the country to a small college. He thinks he would like to study criminal justice. His dedication to wrestling has helped him get to this point. 

He continues to check on his little brother in his old neighborhood pretty regularly, but he has no desire to live on Clark Street again.  

On the other hand, just two months ago, a boy in his old neighborhood was gunned down in a gang-related shooting. I did not know this boy, but my wrestler did. Although he considered the kid an okay guy, the boy who was killed had recently dropped out of high school and ran around with gang members. Once again, it does not take a high IQ to realize that if the boy had not been associating with gang members at midnight, he would not have been killed at o-dark thirty that morning. It is just that simple. 

Those are the decisions the kids on Clark Street make for themselves. 

Who is Helped by Ignoring Reality? 

Finally, one more of my former wrestlers -- who would never be confused with an aspiring college kid -- is in jail right now. He is awaiting trial for shooting three teenagers and a twelve-year-old on an outdoor basketball court earlier this year. This shooting is gang related. While the community was outraged by the violence, the four victims do not appear to have been honor-roll kids themselves. As a matter of fact, one of the victims vowed to keep “thuggin” and posted pictures of his bullet-riddled leg on social media after he was released from the hospital. He also wanted to know who would help exact revenge. Whether the 12-year-old boy, who was shot through the eye, was a gang member remains unclear. However, hanging around with gang members increases the chances of a child being shot at any time. 

Of course, secular America and political correctness forbid all questions concerning how the appalling rate of uninvolved fathers contributes to the chaotic lives of many of these dead or wounded children. According to liberals, society is to blame for all of it because America’s dying values and expectations of individual responsibility are now cultural intolerance and bigotry. How insane is that? 

How to Move Forward

Most of the kids from this town who are part of my life are just good kids. They are exactly the kind of kids the media and liberals try to make the public believe that the dead and wounded kids are. Most of the kids who I know well have not committed crimes or caused trouble at school. Unfortunately, their lives are made much harder by kids that do. 

Of course, everyone has heard about a rare tragedy of a good kid or innocent baby being shot in senseless violence. But the cold hard truth is that kids who are not involved in crime or counterproductive behavior rarely ever end up shot by juvenile delinquents, police officers, or average citizens. 

The kids who keep getting shot have something in common. Skin color is unfortunately what the public initially sees. But asking one simple question always reveals the reality: Are the kids in any way closely associated with crime, and not necessarily at the time they are shot? 

The subsequent questions are even more obvious, but liberals will never ask them. Meanwhile, genuinely good kids will go on doing their best to avoid trouble, only to be associated with the kids whose chaotic lives keep making the news.

How otherwise normal people can indignantly ignore that Ferguson’s Michael Brown menacingly robbed a convenience store and that an eyewitness describes him assaulting and charging a police officer, all within approximately minutes of his death, can blame anyone more than the Michael Brown himself clearly defies rational thought. 

If the Ferguson protestors sincerely wanted to know who their worst enemies are, they would start by looking in the mirror -- just like everyone else does. 

Lee Culpepper is a former United States Marine Corps officer and reformed high school English teacher. Lee Culpepper has shared his passions for writing and wrestling among youths from nearly every walk of life across the country. During his last stand in public education, Lee Culpepper invested in the lives of teens and young adults from a town that lists among the most dangerous and most impoverished cities in the nation. In the face of broken homes, government addiction, and rampant crime, Lee Culpepper has fought to plant a flag for America's empowering message of self-reliance, competition, and persistence. Through his interest and training with firearms and concealed carry, Lee Culpepper also works to empower responsible, law-abiding adults with knowledge and training that can help to keep them physically and legally safe. Email Lee Culpepper at drcoolpepper@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @drcoolpepper. Read other articles by Lee Culpepper at Townhall.com and BearingArms.com.