It’s always the guns and never the mess we’ve created

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After nearly being shot by a stranger in Chicago, the author’s son suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome. | Getty Images

Focus on the guns. If we can just keep everyone’s attention on the guns and the homicides, we don’t have to think about all the children whose lives have been destroyed in Chicago by drugs.

All we have to do is get rid of assault weapons. That’s it. And maybe outlaw bump stocks.


Focus on the guns and you don’t have to think about all the children on the streets whose parents are sitting in prison cells, which may actually be better for the kids than living with them.

Of course, some of these parents are only children themselves. They were 14, 15, 16 or 17 years old when they had their babies. High school dropouts. Gang members. Drug addicts.

Or just lonely, neglected children looking for love when they got pregnant.

Really good kids, some of them, forced to raise their brothers and sisters because Dad was gone, and Mom was working two jobs, or dead.

Kids. Babies. Parents.

Gang bangers.

Drug dealers.


Better not to think about them. Guns. That’s the problem.

There was a child in a courtroom many years ago accused of shooting other children who had been sitting on the steps of a Chicago park district fieldhouse. The killer didn’t know them. But he shot them because the gang he wanted to join told him to do it.

He had a baby face. Sweet. Innocent. And his eyes were dead. Vacant. He registered no emotion as the assistant state’s attorney described how he took his gun out and murdered a young girl.

Other than his public defender, there were no adults sitting near the defendant in the courtroom. In fact, the only person in the visitor’s gallery was me, a newspaper reporter who just happened to wander in while a Chicago congressman was on trial elsewhere in the courthouse. The kid was alone. That didn’t seem to bother him. He likely had been alone since the day he was born.

Born dead. No chance at a life. He was going to prison now where he could be with others like himself.

He might be mentally ill, like many of the people awaiting trial in Cook County Jail. The government doesn’t care much about the mentally ill. The clinics and hospitals to treat them are gone. Closed to save money.

So the streets of Chicago are littered with the mentally ill. And then someone with a mental problem shoots a bunch of children in a school and everyone says we have to do something.

Have a moment of silence. Say a prayer. Pass some gun laws.

That’s the way it has been for decades.

There are 10 people who say they are running for mayor and none of them will accept responsibility for any of this. Not the former police chief, not the former schools chief and certainly not the current mayor seeking re-election.

I can’t blame them. No one’s willing to take the blame.

But they know where to place it. Guns!

The government has done nothing to help. Federal, state and city.

Police officers and teachers, some of them try. Some of them are part of the problem.

Community leaders and preachers shout and chant and march.

Parents? Well, we all know they’re to blame.

Talk about child neglect.

Did I mention guns?

We can’t do anything about the drugs, can’t do anything about the schools, can’t do anything about the gangs and the child abuse.

Let’s all focus on the guns.

The public schools have been a mess for decades, failing generations of children. Now they’re actually a filthy mess.

Keep the focus on those guns. It makes us feel better about ourselves while the lives of so many children slowly rot.

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