What the heck!
Chicago has become a war zone. Reports at the end of 2012 quibbled whether gun deaths in Chicago did – did not – reach 500. Final tally on December 31st was closer to 532 men, women and children killed, 2,670 shootings.On January 1st the City had already had 3 killings and 15 shootings.
I can’t imagine anyone thinking these numbers are within reason. One death is one too many. But 532 is the equivalent of 19 Sandy Hooks.
Even starker comparisons were brought to mind recently when WBEZ reported – based on the Department of Defense and FBI data – that while some 2,000 U.S. troops have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001, more than 5,000 people have been killed by gun fire in Chicago during that time.
Gun crimes are clearly not new to Chicago. But they’re not restricted to the ghettos either. One of the most recent killings occurred just 2 blocks from my daughter’s home, in what has been traditionally haled as a fairly safe neighborhood in the city.
Where does it end? Typically our worst crime rates occur in the dog days of summer when tempers run thin. But now it appears that no time of year is safe.
I don’t know what it’s going to take to turn our society around. We can blame some of this on mental illness, perhaps, but I do believe that the illness is much more pervasive than we are willing to admit. I do know that more guns are not the answer and that much has to be done to bring us back to a place where human life is valued much more than it is now.
If it means that we need more police on the streets, then please, let’s do it.
In the meantime it’s up to each and everyone of us to be on the alert. Pay attention to what’s going on around you, stay away from alleys and secluded areas but remember a lot of these shootings occur in broad daylight.
I’m hearing a lot more talk of people – even younger women – declaring that they are thinking about getting themselves a gun for protection. That won’t help. Rather, let’s get more involved in Neighborhood Watches. Let’s take more precautions – making sure that whenever possible, we walk in groups. If in doubt call 911 – don’t wait to see if your sense of danger will go away. And, let’s call our politicians and civil servants to task. Part of their jobs go beyond making more money – they are supposed to be working to make our neighborhoods safe.