The recent editorial (“Cracking down on armed carjacking in Chicago and the suburbs,”  Feb. 12) correctly points out the need for Illinois to “face up to the effects of drastic budget cuts to programs to stop crime before it starts.” But “face up” must mean more than simply acknowledging that funding cuts have damaged public safety and eviscerated opportunities for youth to avoid delinquent behavior and, in turn, escape poverty and prison. We must do more than face up; we must “fund up” and then “drive down” the proliferation of illegal guns.

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The General Assembly must find money to pay for services and end payment delays to after-school program providers, youth jobs, and mental health services. Members should enact common sense policy changes, such as state licensing of gun dealers to help prevent illegal guns from getting into the wrong hands.

Both Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Supt. Eddie Johnson have endorsed the proposed Gun Dealer Licensing Act (SB 1657), but we need more than talk.

City leaders should get more serious about curbing violence by delivering services to struggling families, enforcing existing laws to stop the resale of lost and stolen guns and enacting laws to crack down on corrupt gun dealers who make it easy to put illegal guns on our streets.

Instead of a city known for putting youth behind bars for crimes they might not have committed, we should become a city where kids don’t have easy access to guns but have the basic necessities such as a home, food, health care and education to enable them to envision a productive future.

Elizabeth Clarke, president, Juvenile Justice Initiative

Time to shed light on the shadows 

Once again gun violence and mental health issues cast its ugly shadow over America.

We’ve witnessed gun violence in our own city with the loss of Polie Cmdr. Paul Bauer, a St. Ignatius High School grad (like myself) and also in the gunning down of 17 innocent Florida students and more injured when a 19-year-old legally purchased an AR-15 rifle.

As Bar president, I created a special committee of the Illinois State Bar on gun violence. We will have a symposium on this issue in Springfield and Chicago in the next few weeks. We intend to reach out to community leaders, presiding fudges and all other stakeholders to get a better approach and communication to this increasing problem.

As a person who was born and raised in the Austin community, it troubles me to read about the violence in my once community and elsewhere in Chicago. I pledged to do something about it.

My committee consists of talented attorneys and educators who can inform community leaders, groups, elected officials and activists on how best to handle this perplexing societal problem.

We hope to publish our final product and distribute to interested groups in the state.

Hon. Russell W. Hartigan, president, Illinois Bar Association

Teachers should worry about teaching, not shooting 

One of the dumbest statements I’ve heard from gun proponents is “Teachers should have guns to help protect students.” Maybe many of those teachers don’t want the responsibility of shooting and possibly killing another human being. Many may also be afraid of guns, or maybe they are against guns.

We have the police and the military to protect the masses. The SecondAamendment is for people who want a small handgun or rifle to protect their home, but I don’t believe it was meant for ASSAULT style weapons.

An AR-15 rifle speaks for itself, the “A” means assault. Defense is not assault.

Edwina Jackson, Longwood Manor

Crumbling morality to blame, not guns 

Sadly, once again we have a mass shooting at a school. As usual, the first impulse of the media is to attack guns instead of the real cause of these disasters, which is the accelerating decline of our culture. Back in the days of “Father Knows Best,” when I was working on the family farm as a kid, every home had a loaded gun by the back door to shoot the fox in the hen house or the rabbit in the garden to protect our food supply. In my lifetime, nobody has been hurt by a gun in that farm town where they were everywhere. How can that be?

I was taught to use a gun when I was less than 10 years old at summer camp, which was the norm for the day. I have been hunting for over 50 years and I have never hurt a soul with a gun, nor have any of my many hunting friends. Why were guns so safe then and so dangerous now? Because we were taught responsible, good and moral behavior by our fathers, mothers, churches, Boy Scouts, summer camps, and even on television.

Today, kids are bombarded with horrific violence on television, movies, social media, and even with games that make billions of dollars on as they ruin the morality of our kids. Church attendance is down and kids today live on their phones and social media, which scientific data proves can cause depression and antisocial behavior. The same guns that hurt nobody when we were kids are now killing innocent kids. The problem isn’t guns; the problem is the accelerating decline of our culture and morality.

Randy Rossi, Grayslake