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Chicago Gun Violence And Personal Responsibility

August 7, 2018

The news from Chicago this weekend rips at my heart.  The waste, the sadness, the senselessness.

It was an extremely violent weekend in the Windy City which left 12 people dead and dozens more wounded.  Chicago police said a total of 66 people were shot from 6 P.M. on Friday to midnight on Sunday.  Twelve of those victims died.

While there are many social and cultural issues that can be examined as to causes–ranging from drugs and gangs, to unemployment and family dysfunction–the fact is that guns were fired and bullets killed and wounded a great number of people.

Reading the police reports are maddening.  Children near a laundromat heard gunfire and only found safety in a bathroom.  At a meal following a funeral mourners in a courtyard were sprayed with bullets.  At that incident the wounded included four teenage girls.  While temperatures soared in the city an effort was made for distraction with a party.  That is where a 17-year-old girl was shot and killed.   The list of insanity goes on and on–and on.

This happened in one of our American cities.  Not in the old film footage from Beirut. 

Just days ago community activists in Chicago put on a massive, and truly impressive protest.  They even shut down Lake Shore Drive to challenge the whole city to truly ponder the outrageous violence.  Last month another equally visual show of disgust over gun violence shut down the Dan Ryan Expressway.   I heard the news about both protests over and over on WGN radio.  Images on the television news allowed the nation to see the sheer frustration of what is happening everyday on the inner city streets and in homes.

Yet this weekend, once again, and in glaring headline fashion, violence leaped out like the flames which ravage California.  Young black people are killing other black people with such a stunning lack of conscience that it makes me wonder if perhaps the bottom in some places in this land has not already been reached.

Readers know how I feel about guns and the lack of spine from our elected officials when it comes to not legislating for meaningful gun control.  I have nothing positive to say about the NRA. But it also needs saying–as I have done over and over with so many issues–that there needs to be some personal responsibility for this violence.

There is just no way to read the police reports about shooting after shooting and not accept as fact that all my desires for gun control needs to walk side-by-side with personal responsibility.   And I am not talking only about the ones who should never pick the damn weapon up in the first place.

I am also talking about those who know very well the facts as to who the shooters are, and have evidence needed to allow police to make arrests, and prosecutors to seek justice. 

I am now age 56, so perhaps that is one reason a fact about some of these shootings really jumped out of my radio this weekend.  Parents have a huge responsibility to know where their children are at all times.  And that should really be the case at 2 or 3 A.M!  Who allows their loved ones who can not even shave outside at that hour in the crazed streets?  Or kids that are just in 6th grade?

My first Letter to the Editor in our local newspaper was in sixth grade.  It was about the need for gun control. My mom wished it had not been published as it ran counter to what so many rural neighbors thought. That concern did not bother me then, and all these years later it has never altered my pen–or keyboard.  I have never stopped caring about, or advocating for what I know is needed in this land when it comes to these deadly weapons.

But after this really awful display of violence and utter disregard for all bounds of decency in Chicago, there is no doubt whatsoever, that there is a huge absence of, and need for personal responsibility.  What happened is staggering to see and read about.  And what is most troubling when all is reported and covered is that none of it needed to have happened at all.  

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