We must come together to address gun violence

Writing an opinion column is often a challenging thing to do, especially when events leave you speechless.

I was standing in front of the office Monday, just after the final entry of the village's parade had passed by, when I heard about a much different end to the parade in Highland Park from assistant village manager Brad Bloom.

As the day passed, we learned more and more about the horrific events and its victims. Six killed. More than two dozen injured, either shot or hurt in an attempt to flee the scene. Many were children.

By Monday evening, police had arrested 22-year-old Robert Crimo III.

Whether or not you support our governor, I think he found the perfect words to describe the tragedy during a press conference late Monday afternoon.

"It is devastating that a celebration of America was ripped apart by our uniquely American plague," Gov. JB Pritzker said from a Highland Park fire station. "A day dedicated to freedom has put into stark relief the one freedom we as a nation refuse to uphold - the freedom of our fellow citizens to live without the daily fear of gun violence."

The shooting made me think of a column I wrote a while back about how extremist "solutions" won't save lives.

I had a little trouble finding it in our archives. Unfortunately there have been so many mass shootings, I couldn't recall which one prompted me to write the piece. It was the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fla., in February 2018. Fourteen students and three educators were killed.

I spent a couple of paragraphs in that column outlining the loss of life in mass shootings. At the time, more than 100 lives had been lost in three mass shootings in five months in Parkland, Las Vegas and Texas.

Another 121, I noted, had been killed in Orlando, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech and Columbine in the 19 years prior.

Things have not gotten better.

"There were more mass shootings than days in 2019, read a CBS headline from Jan. 2, 2020, noting that the Gun Violence Archive, which tracks mass shootings across the country, defines a mass shooting as any incident in which at least four people are shot. Twenty-one of those were deadly mass shootings in which a total of 124 people were killed, according to an ABC News story.

GVA lists 610 mass shootings and 21 mass murders for 2020 and 692 mass shootings and 28 mass murders for 2021.

I remember when we all could list the locations of mass shootings. Columbine. Virgina Tech. Sandy Hook. And then we reached a point where there were too many to remember.

"We need to find a middle ground," I wrote in 2018. "We need to find a way to acknowledge how complicated this issue is and work together to find real solutions."

A reader wrote or called - I can't remember which - after the column ran and told me I was wrong.

We need a different attitude about working together. We must realize compromising is not the same thing as capitulating - and let our elected leaders know that's what we believe.

We must stop believing there is a single problem that leads to events like this and stop looking for a simple answer that will make this all go away.

We need to find a middle ground and a way to work together. We owe it to the country whose birth we celebrated this week. And to each other.

- Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean. Readers can email her at [email protected].

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean