Editorial: Your Community, Your Choice

March 14, 2013
Take a proactive approach to gun violence in your community

Gun control is a hot issue, especially in Chicago, where I have lived my entire life. And legislators and politicians and the general public are struggling with this ongoing dilemma.

Here in Chicago’s mean streets the issue really came into focus of late. With the city logging the worst murder rate in the country in 2012, and 2013 looking particularly grim even in the early months, the outlook is poor. New Police Chief Garry McCarthy, formerly of New Jersey, looks increasingly haggard and perplexed as he addresses media and others shooting after shooting or when Mayor Rahm Emanuel rattles his cage—probably on a daily basis.

President Obama even made a recent visit to Chicago to share his concerns over gun violence, in light of the recent death of Hadiya Pendleton, a majorette who performed at the 2013 presidential inauguration. About one week after she made the visit to Washington, D.C., she became a statistic as she was mistaken for a gang member or some such nonsense that occurs daily in the city, as she walked with a friend in a park.

President Obama visited Hyde Park Academy to show his support for the community and that he sympathizes with them and is listening to their concerns. During his visit, he said that there were 443 murders with a firearm in the city last year and that 65 of those victims were under 18 years of age. “That’s the equivalent of a Newtown every four months,” he said in a report published by The Chicago Sun-Times.

He didn’t talk about gun laws or putting more police on the streets or locking up more gang-members. He spoke about the fundamentals of raising kids, education and creating jobs. And maybe he’s onto something here: that we have to start educating our children at an early age that violence is not the answer, and other methods, such as negotiation, working together for solutions and becoming more proactive in everything we do.

You may have never felt the sting of losing a loved one or a child to gun violence, but it could happen. If it has happened to you, you fully understand the magnitude of the problem.

Seize the opportunity

As alarm dealers and systems integrators with security and safety running through your veins, it’s time you got involved with your community, no matter where it is. Because it could affect you some day, sometime in your lifetime and you will want to feel that at least you took a stance on this ever-growing perplexing dilemma.

Don’t be complacent. Ask your local police department or alarm administrator what you can do to assist. Ask them if they can start a program and if you can help speak at a workshop on ways to solve problems other than violence. Visit your local schools and enlist the help of the police department or other expert on crime and gun issues.

I don’t know the answer to all this violence. I know we need to get the guns out of the hands of those who will use them in an illegal manner. And I do fully believe in our constitutional rights, but this goes much deeper. We have to educate; teach compassion and understanding for our fellow man. We also have to teach at an early age that violence is never right, whether it’s gun or physical or emotional or verbal. We can do our part and educate, suggest training to interested law-abiding gun users; be aware and report illicit activity, work with Chambers of Commerce, police and public and private partnerships.

You are a visible part of the community—and you can enrich your contribution by reaching out and asking what you can do. Together, we can all make an impact. As I write this, there’s been a shooting on Las Vegas Boulevard, reaffirming the fact that Chicago isn’t the only place that gun violence occurs.