Archives for posts with tag: gun control

From today’s New York Times –

“It couldn’t have hit a tree? A light pole? A sign?”

SGT. MICHAEL J. LOPUZZO, the commander of the 40th Precinct detective squad, on a bullet that had traveled nearly two city blocks to strike an unintended victim, in the Bronx precinct’s 14th – and final – homicide of 2016.

It reminded me of our family’s experience with a traveling bullet we had nothing to do with, yet it visited us.  Here’s ‘pop’ from some time ago.

Last week on my early morning run police were gathered outside a home, ready for something.  It was quiet.  They were nervous.   I got the hard stare as I passed before their attention returned to the home.  Had they tracked down the random gunfire we hear at night?  It’s been quiet since.

It is unsettling to hear gunfire where it doesn’t belong.

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Just a quick note.

Last Wednesday at 5:27 AM gunshots interrupted my morning quiet time of reading, meditation and prayer.

I heard 8 gunshots in rapid succession.  They sounded one or two blocks away.

We regularly hear gunshots especially in the middle of the night.  They wake us though most of the time they are several blocks away.  But last week’s gunfire was closer than usual.

We have no idea what is the shooters’ targets.  We do not hear news of someone hurt.  Is this simply the random firing of guns?

Whatever it may be, it is unsettling.

texas-looking-east-on-pestalozzi

8 hours.
11 people.
1 boy, nine years old.
2 dead.
All in one day in one city.
Chicago yesterday.

don't shoot

I laughed, and I’m sure I shouldn’t have, when I read what Jaylen Price’s great-uncle had to say about whoever’s bullet hit his 10 year old nephew a few days ago here in Chicago.

In some parts of our city you expect to hear gunshots.  See bullet holes in walls and windows.  Talk with someone about who got shot.  Chicago’s story is full of bullet holes.

If you stick around long enough you too will have your own shooting story.

Jaylen was hit by a ricochet waiting for a pizza delivery when men down the street started shooting at each other.  His great-uncle, Alvin Ponder,  gives it straight and simple about guns as reported in the Chicago Tribune

“They (politicians) won’t stop everything, I understand that,” he said. “They don’t have to ban the guns, but they have to do things for gun safety, background checks, big magazines. These war weapons don’t belong on the street. Anything that is a semi-automatic is an assault weapon.

“If you can’t hit a target with 10 rounds, you should be doing another hobby. You need another life.”

It’s that last statement.

do you all understand?  10 rounds?  you still can’t hit it?  you should be fishing.  scrapbooking.

Get another life.  Not mine.

Vulnerability.

Can you imagine living through a situation where there is fear to go outside, where businesses are affected to the point of closing, and where everyone feels unsafe and vulnerable?

Noel isn’t talking about the Boston Marathon.  Read more at –

Reflections on the Boston Bombing from CCDA Noel Castellanos

Time to turn the burner down to begin simmering the split peas.  After the soup stock first comes to a boil.  Dinner later.  Saturday.  We are home.

Perhaps it was a mistake to check the Chicago Tribune online so early in the morning.  With a cup of coffee.  Does the paper replace a cigarette?

The morning’s report included “5 teens shot across city Friday”.  Ages 14, 16 and 17.  The fourteen year old merits a separate story.

Maybe because he died Friday night in the front hallway of his home, a few feet away from the front steps where he was shot several times while talking on a cellphone.  Maybe because like other shootings our assumption he was a gangbanger goes against those who knew him as a young person, one who stayed away from gangs.  Maybe because his stepmother would have wanted to say “Happy Birthday” Tuesday, today.  He would have been 15.

I am struggling here, trying to get to the point.

My emotions are in solidarity, circling around a raw place in me.  It frightens me when that place is threatened by contact with the kind of things that created it.  Don’t touch.

The Tribune reporter makes a closing observation –

On the sidewalk near the crime scene, the father of one of the boy’s friends sobbed as he paced near a group of somber teenagers.

Without warning it has been touched.  Inside me, that place inside me.

I don’t care for it.  Over the years I have learned to be careful reading and hearing stories of the terrible things done to others.  I don’t want them to reach out, touching that deep place.

Someone said they think it’s PTSD.  From serving years in places hearing, seeing, being with those who suffer, dead and buried remain as stories, also circling, deep in me?  Years have passed.  I no longer work daily in Gary, Chicago or Detroit.  The stories still circle, just more distant in miles and memory.Bullet Proof Vest  PBS 2

But the father of the boy’s friend suddenly stretches out and touches this raw place.  That astonishing mix of grief, fear and anger he feels brings back mine.  Is it guilt?  I don’t want it but it’s there.  One unhealed wound made up of small rips and tears.

The man’s pain reminded me of one, a young man who was shot to death Christmas morning years ago in a home he had every reason to believe all is calm, sleep in heavenly peace.  But there it has simmered, to boil up again.  Yet raw.  Never done.

Near the crime scene.  Police will investigate it.  Friends will grow quiet near it.  The stepmother and family will have to figure out how to live there, live with it, walk past the spot and memory of a teenaged boy who once stood and talked there.

Violent death, violent shooting deaths.  Never expected.

Yes.  There is a cost to shootings.  They produce death.  And psychic pain.

News all summer in Chicago has been about the shooting and killing.  Mostly on the south and west sides of the city.  It is a ‘statistical aberration’ according to some.

Hunting culture.  Killing culture.  I’ve been trying to sort it out.  A gun lies silent and inert before you.  Early morning in the corner of a farmhouse kitchen it represents uncles gathering to hunt deer.  Flashed at you on a city street means fear and death.

Read the rest of this entry »

James Davisson has shared Matthew Blake’s What To Make of the Chicago Murder Rate from Progress Illinois; it’s worth reading for those interested in what has happened in Chicago so far this year.

I feel that Albert Lurigio’s observation has the ring of truth, that homicides “are an indicator and symptom of a community in distress … never occurs in isolation from other social problems”.

 

It is Sunday evening and the Chicago Tribune Breaking News page reports

  • new study on guns seized by Chicago police shows that suburban gun shops are a main source of guns used in crimes in the city
  • 19-year-old man was shot this evening in the Marquette Park neighborhood on the Southwest Side
  • southwest suburban man arrested Friday morning at Midway Airport trying to board a flight to Houston, Texas; said he forgot he was traveling with a loaded handgun in his carry on baggage
  • detectives this afternoon asked for the public’s help finding a man who sexually assaulted and robbed a woman at gunpoint in a Bronzeville neighborhood parking lot early this morning
  • murder and armed robbery charges have been filed against two men accused of gunning down and robbing a man sitting in a car with his girlfriend in the Bronzeville neighborhood early Saturday
  • two people were seriously wounded during a shooting in Park Manor neighborhood on the South Side this afternoon
  • 13-year-old boy accidentally shot himself in the leg in the West Pullman neighborhood on the Far South Side after finding a gun this morning
  • A man was killed and at least 16 others were shot across the city Saturday evening and this morning, continuing a streak of violence that has left dozens wounded in recent days
  • two assailants wearing masks opened fire this afternoon leaving two people dead and a 17-year-old girl hospitalized in serious condition in the Chatham  neighborhood on the South Side
  • best friends slain three years apart (no, not gang members.  yes, guns.)

There’s more but we needn’t go on, do we?

This, in Chicago, affects and informs the gun control debate in America.  It affects the deer hunter in Minnesota.

Police Superintendent Gary McCarthy says the shooting this summer is a result of drug trafficking and gangs.

Doesn’t it just sound insane to say hundreds of people in Chicago have been wounded by shootings this year?  But it’s true.  Just look at the news for one weekend here.

It’s also no wonder that gun control is a serious topic in the city of Chicago.  If today I spoke to someone on the street about guns the little thought bubble above their head would say “dozens of shootings reported each week in this city”.  They would not be thinking of deer season.

Gun control does exist but it takes many forms.  Walking into O’Hare?  Definitely.  Driving around on the West Side or South Side?  Supposed to be no handguns.  Yeah, right.

Reality: it’s not enforceable at the present time in Chicago.  And what would be your good guess that the handguns used in this summer’s shootings are legitimately owned?

If Superintendent McCarthy’s claim that Chicago’s problem with guns and violence is directly related to drugs and gangs, then that means the challenge is more than removing firearms from the city.  Not that guns are to be ignored, no.  But there are deeper issues involved.  There better be.  Because if police, laws, and adequate funding are effective in addressing the matter, well, there’s no problem.

So what are the issues?  Or, should the question be what is the issue?

Last week I learned how to properly handle a rifle, shotgun and compound bow.  And a handgun.  Actually, three handguns.

Gail and I spent a week with four other Salvation Army youth leaders at the American Wilderness Leadership School courtesy of the Safari Club International.  AWLS is located in the Gros Ventre Wilderness just south of the Tetons.  We loved it.  Mountains, wildlife, cold clear streams.  It was a treat for us outdoors people.

We were busy 7:00 in the morning til 9:00 at night.  Survival skills, wildlife management, fly tying, stream ecology, hikes.  All part of the week’s curriculum meant to train educators and youth development workers such as Salvation Army people how to lead young people in respectful engagement and care of the outdoors.

Early in the week someone mentioned ‘hunting culture’ and the phrase carried me back to life on a farm in northern Minnesota which meant my father and his brothers tramping around the kitchen early on November mornings as they prepared to go out deer hunting.  Venison steak and roast.  My favorite:  a smoked venison ham.  I’ve remembered its flavor and texture for over a half century.

The concept of hunting culture explains much of the reason people, men and women, use firearms.  It is part of the long story of the human race.  But without exposure to the hunting culture, to millions of Americans, guns carry a different connotation.

Almost every morning I check the Chicago Tribune for news from the city and every morning there is one or more articles with the same story line, the same bare facts.  This morning it said 19 people were shot in overnight shootings in the city, 13 of them within a 30 minute period.  If you live in the city, there is no hunting culture.  Guns represent a killing culture.

This understanding of guns horrifies hunters.

Mention that I fired a 12 gauge shotgun or Ruger handgun brings alarm to my urban friends.

Today there was a story from the street outside of the Empire State Building and another from Norway.  I have my own story of pop. Should those stories trump a story from Minnesota?  Is this really an issue of either/or?

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