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Daily Journal
     August 2, 2021      #14-214 KDJ

Community-wide approach needed to curb gun

What can we do?

I have heard and been asked that question quite a few times during the past couple of weeks. All in reference to the epidemic of gun violence that has plagued certain communities across this country, including ours.

Sometimes the question seemed genuine.

Other times it was more rhetorical.

Exactly who are the “we” in question was always vague.

It could mean the government. Law enforcement. Community groups. Or it could mean the person asking the question and me.

Only once have I been asked, “What can I do?” And this person was asking from a position of wanting to understand what are the circumstances that would make black people so willing to randomly kill other black people. A fair question that deserves an answer.

So, what can we do?

Individually and collectively a lot can be done.

Locally, one thing that definitely needs to be done is to cease the irresponsible rhetoric aimed at the mayor. The current mayor inherited this violent lawlessness. The previous mayor inherited it. The mayor twice removed inherited this. It is not new. Yes, there are highs and lows in the frequency of incidents. But gun violence is as much a permanent fixture of our community as missed economic development opportunity.

However, to put the onus of tackling our gun violence on one person or group is disingenuous at best. Those quick to point the finger at the mayor to solve our violent crime issues without any effort on their part are comparable to parents who expect teachers to teach their kids without any effort on their part.

Crimefighting is a joint effort. But the first line of defense begins in the community where it exists. If your neighborhood isn’t safe, the question of what one can do needs to be asked of every member of that community.

To address the current hottest topic of the month, public safety, guns violence and the climbing fatality rate, black America must come up with some short- and long-term efforts. Either some new initiative or jump on the bandwagon of others who are already actively trying to combat the issue.

Too often we hear that we have to get more engaged with our youth before they are recruited and captivated by the negative behavior. While that is true, not enough adults are involved in the process. We are not providing enough kids with a strong support to avoid the entrapment of the streets before they leave the third grade. It is not that we don’t have the manpower. We don’t have enough adult interest. We are not lacking professionalism. There is no greater requirement than genuine interest.

For those youth who have fallen between the cracks and find themselves entwined in the judicial system, all is not lost. There are programs to address first offenders to prevent them from a lifetime of consequences. However, giving a kid a second chance without a second support system is a wasted endeavor. What we can do is step in to help.

When Popeye’s Chicken introduced a new sandwich and put out a call for chicken lovers to consume, there were long, endless lines of patient adults willing to wait to buy just two sandwiches. The Kankakee County State’s Attorney has put out a call for mentors to work with young offenders to prevent recidivist behaviors. There is no line, no patience, no interest.

And for those young individuals who have chosen to live by their own street creed, we know who they are. There are not that many. The neighborhoods know who they are. The police know who they are.

Why can’t we curtail the violence? It’s been said many times many ways, “You cannot conquer what you don’t confront.”

Ron Jackson can be contacted through the Daily Journal at editors@daily-journal.com.

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