Too many Chicagoans witness gun violence. Stop flooding our city and nation with firearms.

More than half of Chicagoans witness a shooting by age 40. Is it reasonable to assume gun advocates have no intention of reining in the spread of powerful firearms?

SHARE Too many Chicagoans witness gun violence. Stop flooding our city and nation with firearms.
Police investigate the Evanston scene where three teens were shot, one fatally, in the 1800 block of Sheridan Road at Clark Street Beach near Northwestern University on April 12.

Police investigate the Evanston scene where three teens were shot, one fatally, in the 1800 block of Sheridan Road at Clark Street Beach near Northwestern University on April 12.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

When a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association tells us half of Chicagoans will witness a shooting by age 40, is it fair to suspect some gun advocates think that half is not enough?

Is it fair to guess they think that, as more people witness shootings, they will be more likely to buy guns for their protection — furthering the gun lobby’s goal of putting more guns in the hands of more Americans and turning the nation into an armed camp?

Is it reasonable to assume they have no intention of reining in the spread of powerful firearms, no matter how much carnage bloodies our communities every day, no matter how many friends and loved ones are lost to needless violence?

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The actions of many politicians around the country hint at the answer to those questions. With little thought of protecting individuals, they continue to arm the citizenry. To them, it is guns that must be protected.

Two years ago, Texas passed a law allowing people to carry a gun without a permit, and lawmakers there have enacted 100 laws weakening gun restrictions since 2000. Since then, gun violence in that state has soared. Tennessee in 2021 dropped permits for carrying visible or concealed firearms. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a law on April 3 eliminating permits for carrying concealed guns. Kentucky has banned local law enforcement agencies from enforcing federal gun laws. Other states have loosened gun restrictions as well.

Gun violence around the nation has become unspeakable. A 14-year-old girl shot playing hide-and-seek. A teenager picking up his siblings shot after going to the wrong address. Eight killed and seven hurt in a shooting at a Texas outlet mall, and 19 children and two adults killed in a shooting at a Texas elementary school. Also in Texas, two cheerleaders shot in a supermarket parking lot after one mistakenly opened the door of the wrong car.

Also, a Waukegan volleyball coach recently shot to death, a week after bullets took the life of a former student from the same school. Ten killed and three hurt in a Buffalo supermarket shooting. A 20-year-old woman shot and killed after a friend turned into the wrong driveway in New York state. Eleven people killed in a ballroom dance studio in Monterey Park, California. Chicago Police Officer Aréanah Preston slain. In Nashville, three children and three adults dead in a school shooting. Seven people killed and 48 injured at a Highland Park Fourth of July parade. Four killed and 22 wounded by gun violence last weekend in Chicago, and two people dead and three wounded in a shooting in Englewood on Thursday.

No place is safe. In Illinois, a new analysis shows gun deaths per capita are higher in smaller cities such as Champaign, Peoria and Rockford than in Chicago

A nightmare scenario of so-called ‘solutions’

But, to avoid doing anything, gun supporters keep throwing out distractions. Imagine the nation we would live in if we tried to implement their alternate “solutions.” Interminable TSA-style security lines snaking around outside every park, mall, theater, parade, concert, school, library and other public gathering places (although supposed “good guys with guns” would be waved through, possibly on their way to commit mayhem). Young students facing a phalanx of armed teachers and other personnel at school. Everyone driving armored cars and wearing body armor. Longer sentences for shootings, which come only after gun crimes have occurred. Surveilling the populace to identify would-be shooters and prescribing mental health care until they are judged no longer a threat.

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Gun supporters also go to court to block laws when government tries to protect its citizens. In Illinois, gun advocates sued to overturn the state’s new ban on assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines, though the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the law as it works its way through the courts. Just on Friday, a lawsuit filed by New York State Rifle and Pistol Association led a Virginia federal judge to rule that laws preventing federally licensed gun deals from selling handguns to 18- to 20-year-olds are unconstitutional.

On Wednesday, the Illinois House passed a bill that would rein in gunmakers’ marketing strategies, but some Republicans predicted that, if enacted, such a law would wind up in court, as well.

Witnessing a shooting is a trauma that can last a lifetime. As more guns circulate in the wrong hands, more people will suffer that trauma. Such preventable pain and suffering, for witnesses, victims and their friends and loved ones, is unacceptable.

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