Highland Park parade shooting: Stop the endless tragedies

When government refuses to act, it betrays the ideals we celebrate on the Fourth.

SHARE Highland Park parade shooting: Stop the endless tragedies
Toys and lawn chairs lie along the scene of the Fourth of July parade shooting in Highland Park.

Toys and lawn chairs lie along the scene of the Fourth of July parade shooting in Highland Park.

Getty

We hold this truth to be self-evident: More numerous and more powerful guns in America are an assault on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

During a Fourth of July parade in the north suburb of Highland Park, a gunman who was perched on a rooftop on a beautiful day killed six people with a high-powered rifle and injured at least 31.

Video showed pandemonium. In mid-tune, youthful marching band members broke into a run to escape. Families and their children scattered in fear as the shooter picked off people mercilessly. Young and old were targets alike. The gun was so powerful that the eviscerated bodies of victims looked like they had been blown up. A staff member described the scene at Highland Park Hospital as horrific.

Yet the conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court and too many members of Congress think it is gun violence that has unalienable rights, not the rest of us. They don’t care that people were imprisoned in their homes and in businesses — called “sheltering in place” — on a day that was supposed to be a celebration of independence. Parades, fireworks and festivities were canceled throughout the area. Beaches and parks were closed.

Editorial

Editorial

We have to ask ourselves: What truly is freedom? Access to an unlimited number of firearms with too few rules governing who can carry them? Or the freedom to go to a parade, to church, to school, to a theater, to a concert, to a grocery or just walk down the street without fear?

We have to ask ourselves: What is the future of “soft targets” such as parades, which can’t be secured by metal detectors? Will people who emerged from the seclusion of COVID-19 be forced to isolate themselves once more? Who will feel safe in the future enjoying the innocent joy of attending a parade?

This is a nation that already has been shattered by Uvalde, Texas; Sandy Hook, Connecticut; Buffalo, New York; Orlando, Florida; Blacksburg, Virginia; Sutherland Springs, Texas; El Paso, Texas; Las Vegas, Nevada; Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, Florida; Columbine, Colorado, and others too numerous to mention. In Chicago, 57 people were shot, nine of them fatally in Fourth of July weekend violence from Friday evening to Monday morning. There have been 309 mass shootings in America just so far this year. There is never a break from gun violence in America.

People who say they never thought gun violence could “happen here” should wake up. As long as we allow guns to proliferate and permit so many guns to fall into the hands of individuals who are legally banned from possessing firearms, no place is safe. Highland Park, the former home of Michael Jordan, was about as safe as a community could be. No longer.

The Highland Park tragedy could hardly better illustrate the folly of unfettered access to guns. Gun rights groups like to say the answer to a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. But police were on site at the parade when the shooting started. They ran to find the source of the bullets. But they couldn’t stop it.

Gun rights groups and their apologists in Congress also argue in favor of more armed security instead of fewer guns. Do we now need security guards on every roof? There aren’t enough people to provide security at every site in the nation.

On June 24, Congress passed legislation designed to make it harder for dangerous people to obtain firearms. But as U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill., said Monday. “It is nowhere near what is needed. We need to come together to say enough is enough.”

Opinion Newsletter

Opinion This Week

A weekly overview of opinions, analysis and commentary on issues affecting Chicago, Illinois and our nation by outside contributors, Sun-Times readers and the CST Editorial Board.

It’s fortunate the Framers of our nation are not here to see how their words in the Second Amendment have been twisted to put innocent Americans in the line of fire. Yet what today’s irresponsible Supreme Court envisions for America is more twisting, and more violence.

Most Americans want stronger laws to prevent gun violence. Those at the top of our government should remember, as it says in the Declaration of Independence, they derive “their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

If today’s government won’t change, Americans can go to the ballot box in large enough numbers to change the priorities of Congress. State and local governments can continue to enact as much gun safety legislation as they can.

Let us declare our independence from the tyranny of gun violence.

Want to write a letter to the editor or submit an op-ed for the Sun-Times? See our guidelines.

The Latest
Emergency crews responded to a call of people in the water about 5 p.m. in the no-wake slip often referred to as “the Playpen,” Chicago fire officials said.
Brisker looked the part of expected Week 1 starter with impact plays. Sanborn, the Lake Zurich product, had a glorious Bears debut with two takeaways, a tackle for loss and two special-teams tackles.
Why are there so many good ones? Not that anybody’s complaining.
When Josh Gordon caught a nine-yard pass and tried to stomp both feet down before crossing into the Chiefs’ sideline, Matt Eberflus knew what to do. He’d been preparing for it since January — but also, really, his whole life.
Jenkins was solid in the preseason game against the Chiefs on Saturday, which could help him find a spot. But not necessarily on the Bears.