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Do not stand idly by

Opinion: Columns

October 10th, 2017 2:51 PM

By John Barrett

One View

You shall not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor.

Leviticus 19:16

Another mass killing. This time in Las Vegas. Fifty-nine people murdered and over 500 injured. Will it never end? How should we respond? What can we do? 

Take time to mourn. Think about all the innocent people who lost their lives and the effect that it will have on all who knew and loved them. At the next meeting that you attend — be it with friends, relatives or acquaintances — ask for a moment of silence to reflect on this massacre.

But don't stop there.

Become more educated on gun violence prevention strategies. What do you know about Second Amendment rights? What are the responsibilities of a gun owner? Does everyone have the right to own a gun? Any gun? Are there limitations on the number or type of weapons that can be owned? Is there a limit on ammunition? What responsibilities do gun dealers have? How can you explain mass shootings to your children? Read about it. Go check it out at the Library. Google it.

Join an organization. There are plenty: The Brady Campaign and Moms Demand Action are national organizations. There is a state organization, Illinois Coalition against Handgun Violence (www.ichv.org.) and a local group, Gun Responsibility Advocates (www.oakparkgra.weebly.com). Check them out. Get involved. Attend a rally. Carry a sign. Remember what Robert Kennedy said: "Ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."

Support legislation. Another specific action you can take is to support legislation to have gun dealers licensed by the state of Illinois. SB 1657 has passed the Illinois Senate and we are trying to get it passed by the Illinois House in the veto session (Oct. 24-26 and Nov. 7-9). This bill will reduce the flow of guns that are used to commit crimes. Reportedly, the killer in Las Vegas purchased a large number of guns this last year — many from the same dealer. Should this not have caused alarm bells to go off? Call your state representative and ask them to support SB 1657.

The Peace and Justice Committee at Saint Edmund Church has held a Prayer Vigil to End Gun Violence on the last Saturday of every month for nearly four years. The next one is on Saturday, Oct. 28 at 6:30 p.m. on the church lawn, 188 S. Oak Park Ave. All are welcome to attend. We read the names of the people who were shot to death in the Chicago area during the previous month. There are about 60 every month. Just about the same number killed in Las Vegas.

Gun violence is an ongoing national problem.

Don't just grieve. Don't just stand there. 

Do something.

John Barrett is a retired trauma surgeon and a 30-year resident of Oak Park. He was the director of the Cook County Hospital Trauma Unit from 1982 to 2002. He is a founding member of Gun Responsibility Advocates and a member of the Saint Edmund Parish Peace and Justice Committee.