Loading, Please Wait...
Daily Journal
     June 9, 2022      #96-160 KDJ

Worrying about children is now all different

By Dennis Marek

When my sisters and I went to Central High School in Clifton, the fear of parents was rather limited to disease and automobile accidents, along with a rare farm injury. We were allowed to walk all over town and even ride the Greyhound bus alone from Kankakee to Clifton.

There were no mass shootings and no serial killers that we knew of. Sure, there was a man in Clifton who had multiple sex offenses, but we knew who he was and stayed far away from him when we saw him in the park or wandering around the town.

We had a few catastrophes with cars and accidents. We even had the shooting death of a friend when I was a sophomore. But the shooter was his mother and not a stranger. In a word, we lived in not only a very safe town, but a much safer world.

As I grew up and became a bit more worldly, we did start to see horrible events such as the killing of the eight nurses by Richard Speck in Chicago. I was in law school in that city at the time and remember the fear some fellow students felt if a similar unknown person would break into their apartment.

To me, that was the start of a realization that the world was not safe, even to those who lived in what we considered a safe environment. Perhaps world worry stepped up a notch with that event.

Unfortunately, it only increased. The students killed by our own police at Kent State, the assassination of President Kennedy in front of thousands, the killing of John Lennon in front of his residence by a man to whom he had just given an autograph. The senseless killings only increased.

But we usually knew where our kids were and felt fairly comfortable. While there were guns in many homes, no one I knew had an assault rifle, an AK-47 or an AR-15. I grew up with guns. My father and grandfather were pheasant hunters, and I joined them. I got my own 20-guage when I was 14. Guns were around but never where young kids could get them.

While Chicago had its gangs, the violence was contained pretty much in the not-so-nice neighborhoods, but times were changing and weapons were becoming more available to anyone.

As a part of a third-year criminal law course taught by none other than future Illinois Gov. Jim Thompson, we were required to ride in the rear seat of a Chicago police car on patrol in South Chicago for two Saturday nights. On one of my rides, one of the officers pointed to a church around 5500 South and stated that the gang that used the church as its headquarters had more guns than the Chicago police had. Eye-opening to a kid from Clifton.

And now we have entered a brand new era of mass killings using incredible weaponry. The latest in Texas was a kid with automatic weapons and thousands of bullets. Sure, Texas is still part of the Wild West, but really, an 18-year-old can buy such artillery over-the counter?

The sadness is pervasive. I don’t have kids in school anymore, but I do have 14 grandchildren scattered around the country, all in school or college. Schools and churches seem to be the targets of the day. Places formerly thought of as safe and secure were no longer.

As a mother or father of children attending grade schools and high schools today, how do you relax? It could happen in any school or church. Our younger children aren’t stupid. They can read or hear what is happening across the nation. It is not one person here or there but a national culture crippled by political discourse doing the killing.

The crisis begs for a solution but falls on many deaf ears. While the children may well not understand the potential tragedy any school or church faces each day, the adults certainly should.

Yet what do we see in Texas this past week? The governor merely stating the facts but avoiding a clear plan to stop such senseless violence. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz stating that talk of gun control is merely the Democrats raising issues. Really?

I have never met a hunter who hunts with an automatic weapon. Shotguns are limited to three shells in many states. So what is the need for automatic weapons for the non-military? The answer is none. A person can protect his home just as well with a handgun with seven or eight shells or a shotgun with three rounds until the police arrive without the need for such automatic, high volume weapons.

Does the position of the NRA make any sense? Is it that they want to be able to have an insurrection if things don’t go their way politically? Like on Jan. 6? I had to laugh at the latest NRA convention held just after the Texas massacre. They prohibited attendees from bringing guns to the meeting. Anywhere else but not at their cherished convention.

I understand that it and the gun manufacturers give incredible amounts of money to political candidates. But can our politicians be bought so easily when we have a serious national problem that these guns are contributing to?

Whether one is a Democrat, a Republican or an independent, it is time for a change. The phrase “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people” is so ridiculous. I never saw or read of a gun killing someone when a person wasn’t on the other end of the gun. Guns kill people with the help of people. We can’t get rid of people, so the solution is the gun.

It is time for bipartisan change, including waiting periods, background clearance of the purchaser and the elimination of automatic weapons from the general public. NRA. It really stands for Not Really Aware.

Dennis Marek can be contacted through the Daily Journal at editors@daily-journal.com or through his personal email at dmarek@ambltd.com.

1 of 1