Guns are terrorizing our communities. Together we can stop the horror.

Those who hope to banish gun violence need to keep shouting from the rooftops that we need a sane approach to the threat of dangerous weapons.

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Police work the scene where multiple people were shot in East Garfield Park neighborhood Monday night.

Police work the scene where multiple people were shot in East Garfield Park neighborhood Monday night.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

On Halloween, evil owned the streets of Chicago’s West Side.

In East Garfield Park, 14 people were shot, including three children, as a crowd reportedly gathered for a balloon release to honor a woman who died of natural causes.

The three children were aged 3, 11 and 13. A woman was injured by a car as she tried to flee the scene. At least 35 other people were shot over the weekend elsewhere in the city, five of them fatally. Across the United States, there were eight other mass shootings over the Halloween weekend.

This is worse than shameful. It is not how a great country treats its populace.

Editorial

Editorial

Those who hope to banish gun violence need to keep shouting from the rooftops that we, as a nation, need a sane approach to the threat of dangerous weapons. Our voices must be raised again and again, and not just after each of the latest horrific shootings.

We at the Sun-Times have written scores of editorials about gun violence — including two published over the last two days — and we will keep writing them. People in other nations can’t understand why we Americans live — and die — like this.

We don’t have to, if we come together to confront the danger to our nation and to each of us.

Shootings such as that in East Garfield Park and in so many other places wouldn’t keep occurring with such tragic regularity if Americans did not make it so easy to purchase guns and did not allow so many powerful firearms on the streets. The East Garfield Park carnage occurred in just three seconds. Think about that. Three seconds. That leaves almost no time to flee the line of fire. Almost no time to know where the shots are coming from. Only time — afterward — to ask ourselves once again why we don’t stop this.

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Decades ago, people starting organizing anti-gun violence groups because they kept seeing unnecessary deaths from “Saturday Night Specials” — small, cheap and easily concealed handguns used by criminals.

For all the efforts in intervening years to make our lives safer, gun violence has spiraled up to unimaginable levels. Where once there were Saturday Night Specials, there now are AR-15s, high-capacity magazines, gun trafficking and unregistered and untraceable firearms. Criminals carry guns so powerful that victims’ bodies are shredded beyond recognition.

So-called gun-rights activists ludicrously wrap themselves in the mantle of protecting themselves. They are quietly abetted by gun manufacturers who sell ever-more powerful firearms to the public as a source of profit. They twist gun laws until there is nothing “well-regulated” about them. Once again, villainy hides behind a claim to loftier principles.

Gun violence hurts us in so many ways. People die. People are wounded, sometimes for a lifetime. Families of victims are left in pain. Communities are weakened. Businesses flee or refuse to come to areas plagued by gunfire. Young schoolchildren hold active-shooter drills. Insurance premiums and taxes rise. Warm weather invites flying bullets. Fear stalks the streets, dictating where people go and how they live their lives. Quality of life suffers tremendously in broad reaches of our society.

We can chip away at the violence with laws requiring registration of guns, universal firearm background checks, red flag laws, gun-lock requirements, bump stock bans, raising the age for long-gun purchases to 21 or even 25, banning high-capacity magazines and more. The path back to sanity requires many steps, without faltering along the way.

In areas with weak gun laws, where traffickers easily buy guns, many people don’t see how weapons purchased in their communities flow to cities where criminals use them to spread devastation. They need to hear how their communities must be part of the solution.

Polls show most Americans want stricter gun laws. Yet the combination of special interests and the spreading of false threats about the confiscation of all guns has blocked many needed reforms.

We not only need anti-violence programs, job training, therapy, better access to mental health care, better schools, more opportunities for those at risk of turning to crime, access to housing and more. We also need to cast out the often-illegal weapons that hold so many of as prisoners of fear. We need to say guns will not rule our communities.

Only by raising our voices again and again, louder and louder, can we protect the East Garfield Parks of our nation. Only then can we drive away the evil from our streets.

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