Seven people were shot and killed in Birmingham, Ala., over the Labor Day weekend. This once fairly quiet Southern city, which just hosted the International Olympic’s World Games in July, is now on track to top its all-time murder rate, set back in 1991. So far, there have been 90 murders in 2022, a 28% increase.

New Police Chief Scott Thurmond, formerly the captain of the highest-crime sector of the city and a homicide investigator, was sworn in on August 2. In a wide-ranging interview with Carol Robinson at and The Birmingham Times, which are doing a joint series on crime, he spelled out the problem. “The majority are acquaintance based. We don’t have a lot of strangers getting killed,” Thurmond said. Eighty-eight percent of murder victims are black.

With ShotSpotter, technology that locates where gunfire is coming from in different neighborhoods in the city, police often only arrive after the fact, charged with the grim task of finding the bodies of the slain. They then work the streets to try and get reluctant neighbors to identify the assailant. But the rule of silence in the hills of this city seems to be as strong as any New York don invoking the Code of Omertà.

Commenting on the tremendous firepower criminals have at their disposal, Thurmond told the local press, “You’re not going to get all the guns off the street, but it is something we’re going to continue to focus on. But it’s the people using the gun that are the problem; it’s not the guns themselves. The criminals will always find a way to get guns.”

“Our city is up against numerous individuals who do not mind firing an alarming number of rounds at one another from powerful weapons, also placing innocent community members in harm’s way,” he said at a recent press conference.

In his interview with, Thurmond said, “If you look at our homicides, the offenders and the victims are known to one another. It’s not that you have someone killing someone just for the heck of it. You have people having altercations and choosing to use a firearm to solve their altercation.

“This year what we’re seeing, and it’s a problem across the nation, is conflict resolution. People get mad at each other, and there’s no discussing anything or trying to work anything out; they just pull out a gun.

Look at the exhibition driving where the young lady lost her life. As soon as that one car struck another, he was out and firing his gun. There was no opportunity for the driver who struck his vehicle to make amends. It was just immediate action.”

In Thurmond’s opinion, the breakdown in the family and the community is driving the problem and also holds the key to solving it.

“There are stakeholders in the community that they (the shooters) will listen to, whether it’s clergy or somebody out of prison that can tell them this is not the way. Somebody needs to pull their coattails and tell them what they’re doing is wrong. If the community is not going to take a stake, it’s not going to change, and it’s just going to get worse.…”

Thurmond continued, “Is it just a city of Birmingham issue? No, it’s a nationwide problem. This is the culture. Look at the music the kids listen to today. Think about the music of the 70s and 80s and maybe even early 90s. They talked about girlfriends and love. It wasn’t beating and shooting and (expletive) the police. You listen to that all day, and it becomes a part of your environment,” he told local reporters.

Related: Reasons Never to Vote Democrat Again, Vol. II: The Big, Blue Crime Wave

Will Birmingham go the way of Memphis, which is among the most dangerous cities in the United States?

“Being your child’s friend is not the answer,” Thurmond said in his interview with the local press. “You have to be their parent. It’s a lot of work. And the rewards can be great when they’re successful, but you have to help them get there.”

What is often left unsaid is that in most cases, while all of these killers probably had a mother they knew, the gun often ended up replacing their father. And that is no substitute for the manliness they should have learned at home from a real father. The United States has the highest rate of single-parent homes in the world, according to a Pew Survey. It is a society-wide failure.

Dr. Paul Vitz, professor emeritus at NYU, in his groundbreaking research for his book Faith of the Fatherless, found that many leaders in the world of atheism and nihilism came from homes where fathers were absent as leaders. And such fatherless leaders have now helped create societies that breed an army of violent fatherless followers. Chief Thurmond is right; the police can only do so much. Without any concept of the fatherhood of God and a strong father in the home, or even men willing to fill the void created by such fatherlessness, greater and greater uses of force by the state can’t fully stop rootless young men from killing and maiming their neighbors.

As G.K. Chesterton wrote a century ago, “The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because generally they are the same people.”

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