Governor Parson, not President Biden, is who made the Ralph Yarl shooting political | Opinion

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Missouri Gov. Mike Parson should know better. Accusing President Joe Biden of politicizing the shooting of 16-year-old Ralph Yarl is rich, after Parson stayed mum about the incident for almost a week.

This week, Biden, quite admirably, held a hourlong phone conversation with Ralph and his family, and invited the teen to visit the White House once he is well enough to travel.

On Tuesday, Biden wrote on Twitter: “No parent should have to worry that their kid will be shot after ringing the wrong doorbell. We’ve got to keep up the fight against gun violence. And Ralph, we’ll see you in the Oval once you feel better.”

That’s leadership. But Parson acted as if the president’s calm, commonsense call to combat this nation’s outrageous scourge of death and destruction from firearms was a declaration of political war.

“When the president of the United States is trying to make a political statement over a very serious tragedy, it is very unfortunate and I don’t agree with trying to make political points out of terrible — I’ve never done that since I’ve been governor” Parson said.

Sorry, Governor: It’s you, not Biden, who brought politics into this. And you couldn’t resist a sly dis to the urban areas whose voters you and the Republican supermajority in Jefferson City continually ignore.

Young people “get killed in St. Louis and Kansas City every day,” Parson said. He chided Biden for not holding court with those families.

Deflection anyone?

As leaders in both cities have said for years, Missouri’s loose firearms laws make it easy for anyone to get a gun. But that was not the issue in this case, as Parson made it out to be.

“I don’t want some 16-year-old kid to be getting shot because he went to the wrong house — we just don’t want those kinds of things to happen,” Parson said Wednesday. We don’t either. Neither do the untold numbers of people around the world who have donated more than $3 million to a GoFundMe campaign established to cover Ralph’s medical, college and other expenses.

After days in the hospital, Ralph is expected to make a full recovery, family members have said. Hallelujah.

All children in our state should be safe from gun violence. But they’re not. Especially young folks in St. Louis, Kansas City, Columbia and Springfield.

The collective outrage we’ve seen far and wide is a result of Lester, an 84-year-old man without provocation shooting an unarmed and unassuming teenager in the head and again in the arm. Not politics.

Is there any doubt Lester’s actions last Thursday were unprovoked and reprehensible? No.

Missourians, led by local and national civil rights activists, took to the streets of Kansas City’s Northland this weekend of their own volition. The protests that have followed have absolutely nothing to do with Biden’s well wishes to Ralph and his inoffensive statement about the need to fight gun violence — a sentiment shared by a large percentage of the population, in Missouri and around the country.

But yet again, Parson doesn’t seem to understand that he is supposed to be governing all Missourians.

Our state’s most populous cities continue to top the lists of gun violence, particularly homicides and suicides. It is worse for Black people like Ralph.

For the better part of a decade, Black Missourians have been killed at a rate higher than in other states, according to a study by the Violence Policy Center, a nonprofit that researches gun issues. Between 2014 and 2019, Missouri routinely ranked first in the nation for its rate of Black homicide victims, the study found.

Black people in Missouri are killed at a per capita rate nine times the overall national homicide rate, the study concluded.

A Republican from Polk County, Parson is in his last term in office. Why make this about Biden, Democrats or political rivals he won’t face again? You don’t have to be a wacky socialist lefty to want to live in a society where Black teens aren’t fired upon by scared, elderly white men for ringing the wrong doorbell.

Nothing so far suggests Ralph was shot because of political views. Lester fired within seconds for merely being Black, he told authorities last Thursday, according to court documents. He was scared of a kid family members said stands under 6 feet tall and weighs about 140 pounds, Lester told investigators.

Mike Parson is not known for speaking off the cuff with ease and grace. But his defensive reaction to a plain statement of fact by the president is an admission that the governor knows what’s really behind our nation’s sick relationship with guns, and his party’s stubborn refusal to do anything about it.