We know what it doesn’t take to stop the slaughter of innocents.
We heard the right words in the last week in response to the cold-hearted murder of Chicago Police Cmdr. Paul Bauer, allegedly by a suspect dressed in body armor.
The sinister act didn’t happen in an alley or on a dark street at an hour when there was no one around.
It happened in the mid-day at a time when crowds were going about their daily lives.
And it happened at the Thompson Center, a place where we are accustomed to feeling safe.
Our civic leaders said words we have heard before under similar circumstances.
“Any loss of life in this city is tragic, but today’s different,” said Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson when he spoke to reporters outside Northwestern Memorial Hospital where Bauer was pronounced dead.
“We lost the best today. It was devastating,” Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) said.
“The hearts of every Chicagoan are heavy,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Words, meant to comfort the slain commander’s loved ones and the city, are appropriate.
Still nothing changes.
Though kind and heartfelt, these are the same words we hear whenever a good person is gunned down.
Ironically, Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo, speaking in the wake of yet another mass school shooting, uttered the one word that would make a difference:
Rizzo, a graduate of the high school in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people – most of them students – were gunned down, made an emotional appeal to the politicians, thinkers and change-makers in this country.
“I know that something has to change before this is visited on another community, and another community, and another community,” he said.
After each mass shooting, there is a frantic investigation into what could have possibly stopped the shooter, but little real change.
In the Florida shooting, FBI officials apparently missed an earlier tip from someone concerned about the shooter’s “gun ownership, erratic behavior, disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting,” CNN reported.
Florida’s Gov. Rick Scott has called for FBI Director Christopher Wray to resign, and rightfully so. This failure to act is especially stunning given the threat of terrorist attacks, and the record number of mass shootings in the U.S. in 2017.
Last October, 58 people were killed and more than 500 injured in Las Vegas in what has been called the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
A month later, 26 people were killed and 20 others injured when a gunman opened fire at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, TX.
“We constantly promote ‘see something, say something,’ and a courageous person did just that to the FBI. And the FBI failed to act,” Florida’s governor said in a news release.
“Seventeen innocent people are dead, and acknowledging a mistake isn’t going to cut it,” he said.
Chicago Police Cmdr. Bauer, 53, was a shot six times during a confrontation with an armed suspect.
It was chilling to hear Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx recite where those bullets struck.
“There is no more serious offense than the killing of a police officer in the line of duty,” Foxx said.
Shomari Legghette, 44, an ex-felon, the suspect in this case, has been charged with first-degree murder, aggravated use of a weapon by a felon and drug possession.
Although Legghette couldn’t buy a gun legally, it is easy for a criminal to get a weapon capable of killing one person or 17.
And I can’t even comprehend how a repeat felon would have access to body armor.
But like gun dealers, sellers of such gear aren’t concerned about who actually wears the gear.
“The responsibility does not fall on the shoulders of the retailer,” according to the “BulletSafe” website.
“People who purchase bulletproof vests and other types of body armor are upstanding citizens who simply wish to protect themselves, their employees and their families from harm,” according to “BulletSafe.”
Clearly, Legghette wasn’t one of those.
But is this what it has come down to?
While Congress is unwilling to do more to stop the misuse of firearms, citizens are gearing up in body armor?
How many more good people have to be killed by guns before we demand a lot more than comforting words?